Martial-Arts Theme Park Planned for China
Erica Orden, The Wall Street Journal
December 6, 2011
(PDF version available here)
A Los Angeles-based entertainment group plans to co-develop a $3.1 billion theme park and resort in China's Hubei province with a local investment firm, two people familiar with the project said.
Ikonic Entertainment Group will plan and design a martial-arts-themed park, as well as a $50 million live show, one of the people said.
The development, if it receives the necessary approvals, will be located at Wudang Mountain in Hubei, which is famous as a center of Chinese martial arts.
Ikonic is a new entity co-founded by Tony Christopher, head of Landmark Entertainment Group LLC, an entertainment production company.
Landmark has a history of creating amusement-park attractions, including "Terminator 2: 3D" for Universal Studios Florida and "Jurassic Park—The Ride" for Universal Studios Hollywood.
The China project is being developed with Hubei Wudang Taichi Lake Investment Group Co., which invests in local cultural and urban development projects, said one of the people familiar with the project.
Representatives for Ikonic and Taichi Lake couldn't be reached for comment.
Media and entertainment companies are battling for a stake in one of the world's fastest-growing markets. Earlier this year, Walt Disney Co. broke ground on Shanghai Disneyland, part of a $4.4 billion Disney resort which is planned to include hotels, restaurants, retail shops and other amenities.
The park plan, reported by at least one Chinese media outlet in recent weeks, would constitute one of the largest foreign investments ever in China.
The ambitious plan would require numerous central government approvals, including of a framework agreement that in Disney's case took more than a year to pass muster with authorities in Beijing after it was approved in Shanghai.
In addition to the Wudang Mountain project, Ikonic and Taichi Lake plan to develop an oceanfront amusement park in Qingzhou, Shandong province, and an Ikonic-produced videogame featuring tai chi kung fu legends.
The companies will also develop a traveling martial-arts show, featuring Taoist and taichi kung fu culture that is expected to tour U.S. college campuses.