Central government approval ends limbo, welcomes Obama
November 03, 2009
By Steven Schwankert and Jonathan Landreth
The Hollywood Reporter
BEIJING–China’s central government finally gave The Walt Disney Co. the green light to build a new theme park in Shanghai’s Pudong district, after the project spent years in limbo, the company said late Tuesday.”China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for The Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” Robert Iger, president and CEO, said in a statement.The Shanghai park will join Hong Kong Disneyland to become Disney’s second in China and third in Asia, counting Tokyo Disneyland. The move is seen in part as a nod to U.S. President Barack Obama, who, with a large U.S. trade delegation, makes his first visit to China in mid-November.
Lack of Beijing’s central government approval had been a major stumbling block for much of the last decade as Disney sought to build a park in Shanghai — China’s largest and wealthiest city, where nearly 17 million residents have the country’s highest per capita nominal GDP, $3,264 in 2008, as compared with $46,714 in the U.S.
Despite years of effort and a gradual opening amid rapid growth in China’s economy, companies like Disney — which employs 600 people in China — Time Warner and News Corp have little to show for their efforts in this country, where the government strongly controls the activities of foreign media companies trying to operate in its nascent marketplace.
The Shanghai Disney park was first dreamt up in 1990 by former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, then the city’s mayor, after he visited Disneyland in California. Nearly 20 years later, a Shanghai park could bring thousands of jobs to the city in a time of recession.
Despite strong efforts by Disney, the park and its massive investment — reported to be about $3.6 billion — did not come with any concession on the television front, where Disney is limited in China to roughly 12 hours each week of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” programming on local stations.
Following Beijing’s approval of Disney’s Project Application Report, the city of Shanghai and Disney’s Parks and Resorts division, led by Jay Rasulo, must still work out more details on the park, said a Disney spokeswoman in Hong Kong.
“Essentially the PAR approval represents one milestone in the process,” she said. “The next stage enables us to proceed with detailed discussions with the Shanghai government to produce a final deal.” No further details were made available officially.
However, according to sources familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity, the park could take up to six years to complete, occupy as much as 1,700 acres of Pudong and be about 40% owned by Disney, The New York Times reported.
The remainder of the shares of the Shanghai park — which could eventually rival the size of Disney World in Florida — would be owned by a group of Chinese companies hand-picked by the government, The Times said.
The Shanghai park, set to be situated between the Pudong Airport and downtown Shanghai, will feature a “Magic-Kingdom” style, in keeping with its cousins in Asia, the U.S. and France, a spokesperson in Hong Kong said. It will also have Chinese characteristics as a “part of the localization process that is a part of the deal,” she said.
Earlier rumors that Disney had secured approval for the Shanghai park boosted shares of property developers that have holdings in Pudong. The city had decided on a site in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area for the planned project but was still in discussions to determine who the local business partners might be, a government source told Reuters earlier this week.
The new Shanghai park, which would be Disney’s sixth, is close to a number of other major cities linked by affordable trains or within easy driving distance, including Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou.
Analysts said that Shanghai’s distance from Hong Kong will separate them and not draw down the Hong Kong park’s attendance too dramatically.
“Visitors from Guangdong and southern China will still find Hong Kong more convenient while Shanghai will attract visitors from northern and eastern China,” said Paul Tang, chief economist of Bank of East Asia.
A spokesman for Hong Kong Disneyland said that attendance at that park, the smallest of the company’s theme parks, had been more than 17 million people from the time it opened in Sept. 2005 through the end of May this year. That’s an average of about 415,000 visitors per month over 41 months.
“From our point of view the Hong Kong and Shanghai parks are not competitors, they’re complementary,” a Disney spokeswoman said. “We really believe that the greater China market is big enough to support multiple parks.”
— Alfred Cang and Sue Zeidler of Reuters contributed to this report.
First off, Happy Halloween. I posted some humorous Halloween pictures on another blog on our site earlier today, so check it out after you finish the Flash Forward review.
So Halloween came early this year (Thursday night to be exact). With episode 6 of Flash Forward aptly titled “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps”, we start seeing the future unfold for the Benfords.
But before we discuss the Benfords, let’s discuss David Bowie. Why?
Scary Monsters was one David Bowie’s greatest albums. Scary Monsters was a highly self-reflective album showing how haunted Bowie was by the destructive trappings of fame and superstardom. On the title track, ‘scary monsters and super freaks’ are metaphors for the drugged denizens of a phantasmagoric rock world. ‘When I looked in her eyes they were blue but there’s nobody home.’ I don’t know about eyes being blue but I do know about blue hands.
Episode 6 begins with Simon (Dominic Monaghan) seducing a pretty woman by telling her about “quantum superpositions” and “Schrödinger’s cat” while at the same time, Janis is being operated on to save her life. Like Schrödinger’s cat, she is somewhere between being both alive or dead. Nice metaphor.
Back in LA, Demetri and Agent Al Gough (Lee Thompson Young) head over to coroner’s office to see the bodies of the guys Janis took out in her ambush. Demetri notices a small blue hand on one of the bodies, which was one of the items on Mark’s case wall in his flashforward. Mark also mentioned “Baltimore” relating to the blue hand, so Demetri and Gough head over to Baltimore Street in Silver Lake, which is a few blocks away.
Meanwhile, while trick or treating, Mark, Aaron, and Charlie see a kangaroo hopping down the street (I loved the Sally outfit from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas that Nicole was wearing).
Dylan leaves the hospital and takes a bus to the Benford’s house. The writers were in full humor of having him wear a pimp costume. His exchange between the bus driver and the guy on the bus defending his “miho” was funny and poignant at the same time.
Dylan walks past Nicole into the Benford’s house and gets himself a cookie from the rooster cookie jar explaining “It’s my house too.” We learn a bit later that Charlie told this to him when taking a cookie in their flashforward life.
Mark sees three guys wearing masks similar to the ones he sees in his flashforward. He chases after the guys (to the sounds of Bowie’s tune) and catches one in the cemetery. Turns out they were just kids afraid of getting caught toilet papering houses.
Demetri and Gough are on Baltimore Street following hand symbols where each hand has only a certain amount of fingers shown to indicate how far to go down the street. They end up at what appears to be an abandoned drug house with blood splattered on the walls and three dead bodies covered in sheets. On the body most visible, the left hand has been dipped in or painted blue.
Mark, Lloyd, and Olivia have a very awkward moment when Lloyd comes to pick up Dylan from their house. As Lloyd looks around, he recognizes the house from his flashforward and comes to realize that Oliva is his love interest in his future flashforward. Mark does not take this well at all, but it seemed to me that Lloyd seemed pretty smug about it. Lloyd states “You’re her” which Mark retorts “Not yet.”
Olivia and Mark have words after Lloyd and Dylan leave. Mark accuses Olivia from hiding the truth and she confronts him about hiding the fact that he is drinking in his flashforward. Olivia isn’t sure she can stay with Mark since they cannot trust each other anymore.
At the end of the episode, Simon is waiting in Lloyd’s car. Lloyd is not glad to see him saying “our experiment killed 20 million people.”
New things we learned this week:
Simon’s flashforward was interesting. “He had a neck like an ox and smelled like a meat locker.” He explains that he choked the man to death and didn’t know who he was. Sounds like subway noise in the background, doesn’t it?
Lloyd is from Palo Alto, California.
Seems the show’s writers want us to keep thinking about China somehow being involved in the blackout. First we hear it at the hearings last week and it was mentioned by Gough again tonight. However, Demetri is pretty adamant that “China is a dead end” as he states this to Agent Gough.
Demetri and Janis were at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virgina together. Seems Janis drank Demetri under the table.
Olivia does a B-Lynch suture procedure on Janis which apparently will make her less likely to be able to get pregnant in the future.
Nuts to you, squirrelly-o! Toot-toot!
On one of the bodies is some evidence from the Rutherford case which has not began yet. Demetri states “It begins tonight.”
Who is Gough researching and why is it troubling him so much?
Finally, here is my Halloween treat to you; a sequential photo gallery of the blue hands seen in tonight’s episode.