The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox were hit with a billion-dollar lawsuit in Los Angeles on Monday by a Malaysian casino operator alleging the studios had walked away from a project to build a theme park near the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
The complaint, filed in US federal court, alleges that Disney and Fox had failed to honor a 2013 deal with Genting Malaysia Berhad that calls for the licensing of intellectual property, including from Fox animated films like “Ice Age” and “Planet of the Apes,” for the theme park.
The suit alleges that Fox was seeking to terminate the contract and that Disney executives were also keen on distancing themselves from the project because the park would be adjacent to a casino and would harm the company’s “family-friendly” image.
Disney and Fox representatives did not immediately respond to questions for comment.
“The plan was for Fox World to be the new centerpiece of Resorts World Genting, GENM’s integrated resort complex in Genting Highlands, an idyllic mountain retreat 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) above sea level and an hour’s drive outside of Kuala Lumpur that already attracts over 23 million visitors a year,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that Fox had used repeated delays in the project as a reason to cancel the deal and had recently issued a notice of default, requiring the developer to open the park within 30 days, an impossible deadline.
“This is a case about seller’s remorse, first by Fox, and then by Disney, after the latter began the process of acquiring Fox in a deal now expected to close in the first half of 2019,” the suit claims.
It adds that Genting Malaysia Berhard was entitled to recup the more than $750 million it had already invested in the park, along with consequential and punitive damages in excess of $1 billion.
The park had been slated to open in 2016 but because of the delays, the developer hoped to open it in 2019. It was set to feature rides and other attractions based on such blockbusters as “Ice Age,” “Life of Pi,” “Alien” and “Night at the Museum.”
Built on more than 25 acres (10 hectares), the park was to feature more than 25 rides and attractions.
It was due to replace an older outdoor theme park, which is part of Resorts World Genting located at the peak of an area known as Genting Highlands.