The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
China has finally given a green light for Disneyland to build a theme park in Shanghai. Negotiations that started when Bill Clinton was in the White House have concluded just before President Barack Obama is due to visit. The approval looks like a coup for Walt Disney Co, but it will take all of Mickey's magic to prevent the park from becoming another government-financed loss maker.
Disney's last theme park in the region was anything but a hit. Hong Kong Disneyland was created in 2005 in an effort to boost employment in the epidemic-stricken region, but attendance numbers have fallen short of target. This hits the Hong Kong government harder than Disney, because the former not only took an initial 57 percent equity stake in the venture, but also spent $1.75 billion building related infrastructure like a metro line and ferry piers.
Shanghai Disneyland is likely to be financed in the same way. Estimates for the park's price tag are around $4 billion. The government and a group of Chinese companies will contribute about 60 percent of equity, with Disney paying for the rest. The Shanghai government is also likely to pay for the roads leading to the park.
The Hong Kong park has been a disappointment for a number of reasons, some of which might equally be relevant in Shanghai. It is the smallest Disneyland in the world, so it is crowded and not worth visiting for a second day. Culturally, locals identify more with the Ocean Park, which features pandas and sharks and is cheaper. Hong Kong Disneyland's public image has also taken a hit from a bout of food poisoning and accusations that it has exaggerated visitor numbers.
from Fan Fare:
John Lasseter, the Walt Disney Co's chief creative officer, walked onto the stage at the company's D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, on Sunday wearing a suit jacket over a Hawaiian shirt, and the crowd greeted him with the cheers and shouts usually reserved for a conquering rock god. At one point, a fan held up a flashing red Buzz Lightyear toy the way someone might hoist a cigarette lighter at a concert.
With an adoring audience of more than 3,000 Disney fans before him, Lasseter spent much of the presentation talking about Disney's new push to reclaim its former glory in hand-drawn animation, an artform the studio abandoned after 2004's box office failure "Home on the Range." Lasseter is known for pioneering computer-generated imagery (CGI) on animated movies like "Toy Story" at Pixar Animation Studios, but he went to great lengths to promote Disney's upcoming projects in that other style of filmmaking, which paradoxically Pixar helped to make less popular through the success of its CGI movies before Disney acquired the studio in 2006.