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Cityneon to grow IP LBE in China after CITIC investment

cityneon avengers

Experience entertainment company Cityneon is eyeing growth in China after announcing an investment by CITIC Capital of an approximately 10% stake in the company.

CITIC Capital is an affiliate of CITIC Group, one of China’s largest conglomerates. The partnership is expected to accelerate Cityneon’s growth in North Asia.

Ron Tan, Cityneon’s Executive Chairman and CEO, expects the region to contribute 35 to 40% of the company’s bottom line by 2020.

“We have two big China deals coming up,” Tan told The Business Times. These include introducing Jurassic World to China in partnership with Chinese developer Wanda Group.

Jurassic World and Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N exhibitions

jurassic world exhibition

Cityneon currently partners with major movie and gaming studios globally to secure IPs for exclusive exhibitions and experiences. Global studios include Disney, Marvel, Hasbro, Universal and Lionsgate.

The company has toured its IPs in more than 31 cities, and will be taking Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibitions to Cardiff and Santiago, and Jurassic World: The Exhibition to Seoul.

Cityneon also recently opened its Hunger Games: The Exhibition in Las Vegas, in partnership with MGM Grand.

Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. and Transformers Autobot Alliance have exhibited in Chinese cities such as Beijing, Chongqing, Wuhan and Changsha.

“We have not been treating China as a strategic market, and have instead addressed it just like all the other markets in the rest of the world. This will change,” said Tan. “We only have one of each set in China currently – not sufficient for a population of 1.38 billion. China is big. When we say launch, we are looking at possibly up to eight exhibition sets.”

Transformers Autobot Alliance and Hunger Games

Tan said that a strategic partnership with CITIC Capital will allow Cityneon to work with property developers, media and entertainment companies, retail and merchandising companies.

Something like a theme park, but not really a theme park

He also has plans to create Cityneon’s own asset-based IP for 2024. “Something like a theme park, but not really a theme park,” he said. “Don’t think roller coaster rides at all… it’s something educational. It’s a total themed experience, not a travelling set but a permanent one.”

Tan, who said he can’t share more information, added: “We can only say that we built from the experience that we have been doing from all the movie IP… If I could do this in Singapore, I would love to, but it would probably be North Asia.

“The research and development has already started and special project teams have been formed. This could possibly be in partnership with like-minded and experienced assets companies. Universal Studios in Beijing, for example, is 30% owned by Universal. There are more land, venue spaces, and shopping mall and physical spaces in this world than there is world-class quality content.”

Securing new IPs, growing in China

Tan said of the CITIC Capital alliance: “Riding on the growing momentum of consumer trends towards experience entertainment especially in North Asia, this partnership provides a springboard for us to expand our businesses in China and beyond, through the launch and introduction of existing and new intellectual properties (IPs) under Cityneon’s portfolios.

“Moving forward, we seek to partner with new studios and secure further new IPs in the second half of 2019 and 2020.”

Yichen Zhang, CITIC Capital’s Chairman and CEO, said they are “excited to help Cityneon grow in China and beyond”.

Images: Cityneon

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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