Cirque du Soleil is to open an office in China and launch its first permanent show in the country by 2018.
The moves follow the acquisition of Cirque earlier this year by financier TPG and Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate that is fast expanding its entertainment and leisure portfolio.
The developments were announced at a Fosun event in Shanghai, attended by 20th Century Fox chairman Jim Gianopulos, Cirque’s president and CEO Daniel Lamarre and representatives from South Korean talent agency SM Entertainment, in which Fosun also has an investment. “Titanic” director James Cameron sent a video message.
“Toruk – The First Flight,” a stage show derived from Cameron’s “Avatar” will debut in Montreal and tour China in 2017, after several stops in North America.
Cirque’s China office open later this year in Shanghai. The permanent show will be based in Hangzhou and be part of a joint development with Hangzhou Industrial. It will be located within a large mixed-use residential, retail and entertainment development that Fosun describe as a hive city.
Fosun also announced the establishment of a joint venture with Thomas Cook, the British travel firm in which Fosun has a 5% investment stake. The venture, which will be based in Shanghai’s Pilot Free Trade Zone will be 51% controlled by Fosun and primarily target outbound Chinese travellers.
Fosun is the largest financial backer of Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 company and is a 20% shareholder in Bona Film Group. It is also starting its own film investment and production unit in China.