Lionsgate Entertainment World: building an immersive theme park with Hollywood franchises and high tech

10 2019 | Issue 35

Text/Jasper Hou

I believe cinema-goers are quite familiar with Hollywood blockbusters such as The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and Now You See Me. In July this year, Lionsgate Entertainment World has hit Zhuhai’s Hengqin island with a movie-themed park featuring these popular movies.


Lionsgate Entertainment World is situated at Novotown on Zhuhai’s Hengqin island, covering an area of 22,000 square metres. The theme park has four levels, which integrate six thematic areas that highlight six film IPs, providing visitors with over 30 entertainment experiences. As the first vertical and immersive movie-themed park, Lionsgate Entertainment World introduces advanced technologies to fully showcase the film IPs coming from Lionsgate Films. The project has translated film culture into tourism and entertainment experiences. What are the unique designs and details that are worth studying in Lionsgate Entertainment World? In this issue, we have invited the theme park’s Vice General Manager and Marketing Director Rick Zeng to share with us the stories behind Lionsgate Entertainment World.


Six Hollywood blockbuster franchises


The most important question for the project team during the initial phase had been how to combine tourism and the cultural business in order to maximise the market effect. In Zeng’s opinion, the theme park’s target audience would be mainly residents of Zhuhai and Macao, as well as the 40 million visitors that Macao has each year and residents of Hong Kong who might be attracted to the park due to the opening of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge. The question here is what films and IPs will really reach the target audience. After careful consideration, the project team selected six film blockbuster franchises from Lionsgate Films, who is a partner of Media Asia Film, a movie-making arm of the group. The six blockbuster franchises, namely The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, Gods of Egypt, Now You See Me and Escape Plan, are chosen for the world settings of the theme park.


These six movies are all global hits. They were extremely popular in not only in overseas markets but also in Macao, Hong Kong and mainland China. In addition, they have very rich content in terms of the themes, ranging from sci-fi, fantasy and horror to adventure, romance, etc., which is good for designing a theme park with different entertainment activities,” Zeng explained. “This allows us to build different thematic spaces for visitors to experience. They will enjoy the immersive entertainment activities!”


Building a theme park with international industry giants


After acquiring the copyright license of the Hollywood blockbusters, the next step would be turning film stories into an actual entertainment venue. According to Zeng, the theme park positions itself to be a world-class interactive film theme park and therefore the entire project was planned, designed and operated by top teams around the world. “The six Hollywood franchises from Lionsgate Films were brought to life by Thinkwell Group’s design, an internationally renowned theme park design and production company,” Zeng said. “As for the venue’s operation, we are cooperating with Australia-based Village Roadshow, who will be managing the venue’s operation. We are also working with Australian construction company Cockram, performance company Scenario and the Oscar-winning visual effect team Framestore. We are hoping to perfect every detail in the venue through international cooperation.”


A competitive indoor entertainment destination


Let’s look at neighbouring regions. In Hong Kong, there are already Disneyland and Ocean Park. Even in Hengqin, we also have Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. These are all big outdoor theme parks that we don’t want to directly compete with,” Zeng said, explaining the rationale behind building an indoor theme park. “On the other hand, we also took into consideration of outdoor theme parks’ limitations. For example, an outdoor theme park would have to suspend operation when there is extreme weather. Even when it is only heavy rain or a hot sunny day, the visitors will have a relatively bad experience at the park. In addition, our venue adopts high-tech solutions, which can be updated timely and allow us to modify the entertainment content accordingly. This will constantly bring visitors new entertainment experiences! In this case, going for an outdoor venue would be a cost-effective option. I believe a small but quality indoor entertainment theme park will prove to be competitive in the market.”


Zeng has his unique insights into the project’s prospect. In his opinion, indoor interactive entertainment theme parks like Lionsgate Entertainment World would be a mainstream development for big shopping malls in the future. “Commercial complex now mainly focuses on catering businesses and fashion retailing. The visitors would directly leave the mall after they have finished shopping,” he explained. “In order to incentivise the visitors to stay longer in the mall, it is important to provide some interactive experiences in the mall. This is why it would become a trend for shopping malls to adopt different themes, entertainment elements and interactive solutions in the future. This would be a strategic cooperation trend.”


More than virtual reality technology


The VR (Virtual Reality) market is gradually maturing as its relevant technologies continue to advance through the course of development. From Zeng’s perspective, adopting VR technology has become a common practice in the industry. In order to construct immersive virtual experiences for the visitors, the theme park needs to have organic integration of both the software and hardware. “Besides VR, AR, motion simulator, indoor roller coaster, etc., the venue’s service, live performance and the overall vibe can also provide a better immersive experience for the visitors the moment they step inside the theme park.”


Zeng also believes that Macao enjoys great advantages in regional collaboration. “Although Macao is a small city with limited land, it still attracts nearly 40 million visitors every year with robust tourism industry. That’s why such utilisation of indoor space is perfect for Macao,” Zeng said. “Indoor spaces in Macao can make use of these high-tech immersive experience programmes. However, it is essential for us to consider the problem of commercial land. We need to think about whether there are suitable sites that we can choose from. In addition, it is also important to take into account the establishment and operation cost in Macao. However, I believe Macao boasts immense potential as it enjoys a massive visitor base and presents good opportunities for profiting.”


Lionsgate Entertainment World

Official website and ticketing information:

Business hour: Monday to Sunday 11am-7pm

Address: Novotown, No. 91 Tianyu Road, Hengqin New District, Zhuhai, China