Harrah's floats casino project
LAS VEGAS — The Titanic may just float again, this time in Singapore.Harrah’s Entertainment announced Monday that it has enlisted helmer James Cameron as part of its bid to build a casino resort in Singapore, in one of the most ambitious partnerships between Hollywood and the gaming industry. Cameron will exec produce the resort’s centerpiece attraction, a high-tech theme park dubbed iPort. Housed in a 16-story building with more than 1 million square feet of space, 15 different and changing attractions will be included, many inspired by films. “The ‘I’ in iPort stands for immersion,” Cameron said a presentation at Caesars Palace. “You have to think of it as less of a place than as a total experience. IPort will offer an experience to the guest unlike anything else in the world: an immersive exploration and celebration of global entertainment in an environment that is visually stunning and constantly stimulating.” Some of the proposed attractions would draw from Cameron films such as “Titanic” and “Aliens.” In the plans, the Titanic’s first-class dining room would be re-created in one iPort area; following dinner, visitors could then move on to a mockup of the ship’s boiler room and see a re-creation of the doomed ship’s collision with the iceberg via a fire-and-ice-filled show. Cameron, who will be the lead creative designer of the attractions, said other attractions will based on anime characters, videogames or even Bollywood films. Planning has been under way for more than a year. Cameron credited consultant Sandy Climan, who runs Entertainment Media Ventures, for introducing him to the Harrah’s camp. The iPort would have five levels linked by an open center — termed the “media canyon” — which would feature two towers lined by LED video screens the full height of the building. Architect for the building exterior is Daniel Libeskind, who designed the master plan for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. Craig Hanna of Thinkwell Design and Prods. is designing the interior. Final bids for development of the Marina Bay site are due by the end of the month to the Singapore government. Harrah’s, which is dubbing its project Caesars Singapore, has enlisted Paris’ Centre Pompidou to curate the resort’s hotel and Anschutz Entertainment Group to work on live entertainment. A studio partner will likely be sought from which the iPort can license films for attractions — Monday’s presentation included several Sony properties, including “Kung Fu Hustle,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Men in Black,” but organizers said those were merely illustrative of the kinds of films on which they’d like to base attractions. “I see myself working with the film studios, the distributors, trying to assist in landing the intellectual property deals,” Cameron said. “Working with the filmmakers regarding their dreams, expectations, concerns about the way their films are represented.” Resort would also include a hotel, restaurant and casino. Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has joined Singapore-based developer Keppel Land in its bid to win the Singapore Marina Bay project. The three rival consortia bidding to build and operate Singapore’s first licensed casino include one that has MGM Grand partnering with Hong Kong movie conglom Media Asia and Asian property developer CapitaLand. Winner should be announced in the second half of this year, with the opening scheduled for 2010. “What we’ve tried to do here is, for a lack of a better word, a theme park for adults that has very flexible and highly modernized content,” Harrah’s chief Gary Loveman said of the project. “You would find in this place something you would want to come and see many times, instead of a theme park with a lot of hardware. And that’s where James Cameron comes in. This is designed to be very entertainment and content intensive, and we needed a genius creative mind who could help us put this together.” Loveman would not put a pricetag on the iPort project. Cameron has worked on theme park attractions before and credited that work with pushing his filmmaking. “Ten years ago I did the ‘T2 3-D’ attraction for Universal, and that combined 3-D large-format film with live show elements, and that project got me hooked on 3-D,” he said. “It’s very obvious to me that keeping my hand in the technical creativity that goes into theme park attractions can really feed back into the moviemaking. It goes full circle. Then the movies spawn more attractions.” (Patrick Frater in Hong Kong contributed to this report.)
Want Entertainment News First? Sign up for Variety Alerts and Newsletters!