Over the past few days, I’ve gotten this question a few times in various forms. In response to our coverage of a new Warner Brothers park in the works for Japan and France, a lot of the outcry was expected. Why aren’t they building this in the United States? And perhaps more importantly, will we ever get another park with movie based intellectual properties in the United States?
Let’s tackle the Warner Brothers Park question first. As mentioned in the article, the park (which is still in development) has nine brands that will be represented. One of those is Lord of The Rings. Now I realize I can’t produce a contract for legal reasons, but the North American theme park rights to that franchise are currently held by Universal Studios according to everything I have heard. Thus, that land would have to be dropped from the park if it were in the United States.
More importantly, it also features lands based on DC Comics and Looney Tunes. To WB, these are their classic and iconic characters that help define the brand. Unfortunately, Six Flags has the rights to all of these characters in perpetuity in the United States. Thus, it would be like Disney opening a park without Mickey, Minnie and the gang. (Yes, I know EPCOT Center opened without those characters and that decision was reversed fairly quickly).
Thus, because of rights issues, I don’t see WB opening a park within the United States based on how some of their intellectual properties are not entirely theirs to use in theme parks. Beyond Warner Brothers, will we see another IP movie-based park open in the United States?
Well, we know Universal Epic Universe is scheduled to open in 2023. That will feature Fantastic Beasts, Universal Classic Monsters and How to Train Your Dragon: all movie based franchises. Beyond that, Disney doesn’t have any solid plans to build a new park in the foreseeable future. However, I am willing to bet that all these land purchases around the Walt Disney World property could one day lead to some shuffling around on the property and eventually lead to new parks. Time will tell.
It’s also fair to mention that while Disney and Universal have parks not necessarily dedicated to movies, that is what they are becoming. Between the current overhaul of Epcot (adding Ratatouille, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc) and even Animal Kingdom’s addition of Avatar, all major expansions moving forward will be movie or IP based in some form.
This leaves us with anything not belonging to Disney, Universal or WB (and all the other companies they own: Marvel, Illumination, etc). I know that as a theme park fan, you may have your own favorite movie franchise that you’d love to see in a park that doesn’t belong to those studios. But as an investor, how do you make sure you’re going to make money off of the millions (or billions) it takes to open a theme park in 2020 and beyond?
At the end of the day, this is the main list you want to go by. You can view it in it’s entirety at this link. Notice most of these franchises are owned by Disney, Universal or Warner Brothers. Plus, there are some films that aren’t exactly condusive to theme park attractions like Rocky or Twilight.
While franchises like Mission: Impossible would be a great theme park fit, Paramount currently has its eggs in the London Resort project. Granted, it has been pushed back over the years. However, if successful, could a version of this reach the United States? You never know. I would imagine that would be well over a decade into the future and even then, that’s a maybe as The London Resort would have to start pulling a major profit and quickly.
So the odds of getting a brand new movie based IP park in the United States anytime within the next decade? Slim to none. However, things are constantly changing. Maybe further into the future. Your thoughts?
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