Successful integration of intellectual property (IP) boils down to a fluid relationship between an attraction and the brand owner, said Village Roadshow Theme Parks’ head of entertainment, Michael Croaker. During the Lunch and Learn session at IAAPA Expo Asia 2019, the industry expert shared his tips for making an external IP work at existing attractions.
Utilizing IP can enrich and expand an attraction’s existing brand by helping it stay relevant in the marketplace and showing the attraction is in tune with what’s happening in culture now.
Croaker advised getting to know the partners on the IP side well to have a successful integration. “Is our relationship fluid, or is it fixed? Is it full of non-negotiables?” he asked, further challenging attractions to look for IPs that share complementary values. Ensuring the operator understands the world of the IP and aligns its vision to that is also important, as well as having the appropriate level of resources to make the brand come alive to the level of established consumer expectations. A lack of resources, vision, and appreciation for the IP can doom integration, Croaker cautioned.
Croaker’s keys to bringing an IP alive include expanding and evolving. Explore ways to morph the IP into something bigger than it seems at first. Village Roadshow negotiated with Warner Bros. to dip into the DC Comics character base to create a limited-time experience featuring villains never seen at Warner Bros. Movie World, leveraging its fluid relationship with the brand owner to expand application of the IP. When the movie “Aquaman,” based on the DC character, was released, Village Roadshow took the opportunity to evolve with the DC brand and capitalized on the opportunity to drive value and increase revenue.
“Sometimes the new IP should be a take on your own IP,” Croaker also said. Special events can elevate existing IP. Village Roadshow’s highest-rated horror maze was based on the company’s own IP. Because it didn’t have to run ideas by another brand owner (Warner Bros., for example, vetted every use of DC IP), entertainment had the ability to push the envelope—creating an experience that was story-driven and sensory to the level it wanted.
Now with the new Lionsgate Entertainment World set to open in July at press time, Village Roadshow faces a whole different challenge—managing multiple IPs such as The Hunger Games and Divergent in one large vertical theme park. More than 30 themed attractions fit into this immersive space in Macao, China, where development holds its own challenges. Fortunately for Croaker, “the language of art and creation is universal.”