After announcing plans in July to build a theme park in Malaysia, today 20th Century Fox held a press conference and ground-breaking ceremony to mark the project’s official launch. Set to open in 2016, 20th Century Fox World will have more than 25 rides, including an Ice Age roller coaster and attractions based on Rio, Alien Vs. Predator, A Night At The Museum, and Planet Of The Apes. Some of those attractions can be seen in the park’s conceptual sketches, but don’t expect X-Men or The Simpsons attractions; those are licensed to Universal, while Disney has a lock on an Avatar theme park.
Why Malaysia? The U.S. market for these kinds of theme parks is saturated, says Jeffrey Godsick, president of the company’s Consumer Products division, so Fox is looking at new Asian markets.
This isn’t Fox’s first stab at a theme-park attraction. In November 1999, it opened Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, with a big party attended by 6,000 people including Tom Cruise, Charlie Sheen, and Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch himself. While the soundstage component of the studios did fine, the backlot attraction didn’t draw enough visitors and it shut down in 2001. The problem, Fox Studios Australia’s then-CEO Kim Williams said, was that people expect a “thrill-and-spill environment” when they visit a theme park. Instead, they got “presentations on sound, wardrobe, and makeup, a special-effects display on Titanic, reconstructions of X-Files sets, props, [an original] live show by Baz Luhrmann.” Ultimately, he conceded a year after the park’s opening, “we have an insufficient number of things attractive to children.” Judging by the initial designs for the Malaysian park, that was an expensive mistake Fox won’t make again.