Wang Jianlin, chairman of China’s Wanda group, took a couple of potshots Sunday at the soon-to-open Shanghai Disneyland.
He said that the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort, which opens for business on June 16, will struggle to become profitable in China. He criticized the characters at the park and warned about Shanghai’s poor weather.
Wang, who is one of China’s top two richest businessmen, made the remarks in an hour long televised interview on state-owned China Central Television.
He suggested that SDR’s costs were higher than those of Wanda and represented a “serious challenge” to the park’s profitability. Those costs he said forced SDR to make its entry prices higher than Wanda’s own location based entertainment facilities.
Wanda last week announced that it had broken ground on its 11th major theme park in China, near Guilin. That park is to cost $2.5 billion and open in 2020.
“On top of this China already has Wanda – they really ought not to have come to China at all,” said Wang. Wanda has a range of entertainment properties that stretch from China’s largest private sector cinema chain through to the recently acquired Hollywood producer Legendary Entertainment. It has spent billions buying overseas assets including the Infront sports marketing company, a 20% stake in Atletico Madrid and cinema chains Hoyts in Australia and AMC in North America.
A spokesman for Disney told Variety that Wang’s comments “were not worthy of response.”
SDR is a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group comprised of two owner companies (Shanghai International Theme Park Company Limited and Shanghai International Theme Park Associated Facilities Company Limited) and a management company (Shanghai International Theme Park and Resort Management Company Limited). Shanghai Shendi Group holds 57% of the shares and Disney holds the remaining 43% of shares of the owner companies. Disney has a 70% stake and Shanghai Shendi Group has a 30% stake in the joint venture management company.