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Watch out China, the Aussies are coming! Entertainment and media conglomerate Village Roadshow has formed a strategic alliance with attraction designer/developer Sanderson to explore opportunities for new theme parks and attractions worldwide, including Asia.
Pictured right: Village Roadshow chairman Robert Kirby (left) with Steve Sanderson, chairman of the Sanderson Group
The two companies aim to secure contracts on projects with a gross development value of up to US$1.8 billion. Village Roadshow (VR) would operate the parks, whilst Sanderson would design and build them. Ownership would vary according to local partners.
A key part of the strategy is the exploitation of existing VR licences including Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World and Wet ‘n’ Wild Water World, although a number of unique park concepts may also be realised.
“There is nothing like being able to approach people, whether it’s government, a developer or whoever, with a brand like Sea World,” notes Village Roadshow chairman Robert G Kirby. “Straight away they can see the success and the history of it.”
Whilst setting North America and Europe within their sights (VR already operates Wet ‘n’ Wild properties in Hawaii and Arizona and has plans for a new waterpark in Las Vegas), it is thought one of the first major attractions to be built as a result of the alliance could be in China.
“The Chinese market is exploding at such a rate that no one company has the ability to serve it all,” believes Kirby. “It’s like going back to America in the late ‘40s, before theme parks happened. The sheer scope of it means there are opportunities for many, many parks. The real challenge will be to establish one good project that we can hang our hat on, before going off to represent ourselves in the wider market.”
Originating from the Gold Coast in Queensland, where many of Village Roadshow most famous attractions are based, the Sanderson Group is an Australian multi-national designer and developer of high quality tourism and leisure destinations. The firm boasts over two decades of industry experience, drawing on resources from 10 offices across Asia, Australia and the Middle East, including its new Asian headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. As well as its theme park operations, Village Roadshow boasts various film and music production/distribution interests, with significant cross-promotional opportunities across each of these businesses.
“This agreement has been 20 years in the making,” notes Sanderson's director of business development, Luke Riley. “We first completed work for Village Roadshow at Warner Bros Movie World on the Gold Coast in 1991 and since then our two companies have collaborated on several projects. As Australians, it’s logical for us to make our first step into Asia as result of this new strategic alliance.”
Below: Some key Village Roadshow attraction brands