Casino operator Genting Malaysia Bhd is suing Walt Disney Co and Fox Entertainment Group LLC and some related companies for more than US$1 billion in a court in the United States, report multiple media outlets.
Genting Malaysia is alleging bad faith over a stalled theme park project due to have been opened at the gaming firm’s Resorts World Genting property, near Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
It filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, on Monday.
According to the media reports, Genting Malaysia said “seller’s remorse” induced Fox, with Disney’s help, to breach the gaming firm’s 2013 contract with Fox Entertainment Group to licence intellectual property for the theme park due to carry themes and rides based on the Fox brand’s library of Hollywood film titles. The theme park was referred to previously in Genting group announcements as “20th Century Fox World Malaysia”.
“Unlike Fox, which was perfectly happy to have the park situated a stone’s throw from the casinos of Resorts World Genting so long as it could continue to extract financial concessions,” the Disney group wanted no ties to a gambling company because of its “family-friendly” brand strategy, Genting Malaysia said in the complaint.
“Given that Fox Entertainment Group had no right to terminate the agreement, Fox and Disney are liable for what will exceed a billion [U.S.] dollars in damages attributable to the bad-faith behaviour of both Fox and Disney,” the complaint said, according to media accounts.
Genting Malaysia stated it had already made a “US$750 million-plus investment” in the theme park. It is said to be seeking additionally, punitive damages.
Walt Disney Co is currently working to complete a US$71.3-billion deal – likely to be completed in the first quarter of 2019 – to purchase some Fox group assets.
U.S.-based show business newspaper Variety separately reported – citing the lawsuit – that Genting Malaysia’s designers were forced to recreate the “Ice Age” animated characters for the theme park from scratch because Fox failed to provide digital assets for them, and allegedly dragged its feet on getting permission for use of other copyrighted material.
The suit additionally stated Fox recently issued a notice of default to Genting Malaysia, requiring the developer to open the park within 30 days; described as an impossible target to meet. Genting Malaysia claims that Fox withheld approvals for various elements of the park, or withdrew approvals that had already been granted, causing the delays.
Variety also reported the Genting Malaysia lawsuit as claiming the defendants wanted to “protect Disney’s existing parks from increased competition”.
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”After deep reflection we decided at this time that our focus should be on other potential locations in Japan [beyond Osaka], including among others, Yokohama”
Francis Lui Yiu Tung
Vce-chairman of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group