This appointment further expands Thinkwell’s capabilities in project management and project delivery out of Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi / Los Angeles (August 8, 2019): Thinkwell Group is pleased to announce that Antonio Ramirez has joined the company’s Abu Dhabi office as Project Director. In his role, Antonio is responsible for project management, client partnership, and project delivery for Thinkwell’s EMEA projects.
“Antonio is a great addition to our Abu Dhabi team as we continue to grow our presence to meet evolving market needs,” said Amin Rashmani, Managing Director for Thinkwell in the EMEA region. “His engagement will ensure a continuity of excellent client service for our partners and will solidify our regional production capabilities within Thinkwell’s global network.”
Antonio brings more than 27 years of experience in architecture and project management to the organization. Prior to his joining Thinkwell’s Abu Dhabi office, Antonio was acting as Project Director for WSP, an engineering firm based in the Middle East and the UK. His project experience includes work for Mall of Saudi Snow Park, Dubai Mall Boulevard Expansion, Muscat Al Seeb Development, Mall of Oman Snow Park, Ski Egypt, and London Bridge Network Rail, among others. He is an APM Registered Project Professional.
Joe Zenas, Chief Executive Officer of Thinkwell Group, added, “Bringing Antonio onboard further establishes Thinkwell’s commitment to the region and to our growing team in Abu Dhabi. He will be a valuable asset for Thinkwell across multiple opportunities, and we look forward to introducing him to our partners in the region.”
Visitors will get the chance to experience some of Lionsgate’s film franchises, including Escape Plan, Gods of Egypt, Now You See Me, The Divergent Series, The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga.
As well as rides, there are various dining experiences on offer, including the Hunger Games Capital Club, Peeta’s Bakery, and the Now You See Me-inspired Oculus Lounge.
Experience Twilight, The Hunger Games, and more
As for retail, guests can get glam at Capitol Couture, where they can have their hair and nails done too. There’s also Capitol Confectionary, Dauntless Ink, Iong’s Magic Shop, Treasures of the Nile, and Zaya’s Palace of Beauty.
The main rides include The Twilight Saga – Midnight Ride, The Twilight Saga – Bella’s Journey, Divergent – Fear Simulator, Divergent – The Chasm Challenge Course, Gods of Egypt – Battle For Eternity, Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape, and The Escape Plan – Prison Break.
Gods of Egypt – Battle for Eternity is the world’s first purpose-built indoor VR roller coaster, while Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape is a state-of-the-art multiple motion-based cabin simulator.
VR coasters and multimedia dark rides
The Twilight Saga – Midnight Ride is an interactive VR simulator experience, and Bella’s Journey is a multimedia dark ride.
Divergent – Fear Simulator is a VR walk-through attraction, while The Chasm Challenge Course is a huge climbing course. The Escape Plan – Prison Break is an escape room with immersive theatre.
China’s theme parks are booming, and, getting bigger.
The Themed Entertainment Association, a tourism and entertainment trade group, projects China to be home to the world’s largest theme park facilities by 2020, China Daily reported. A report from World Travel Market last year predicted that theme park-related retail sales are projected to hit US$12 billion by 2020, up 367% compared to 2010.
That translates to 330 million people visiting one theme park or another by 2020 in the world’s second-largest economy. Consultancies attributed such optimistic growth projections to an expanding middle-income group that has the capacity and willingness for discretionary spending. People want to pamper themselves through a variety of entertainment, they said.
Leisure attractions in China are becoming increasingly popular as disposable incomes in the country grow, the China Daily report said.
ANZ Bank believes China’s middle-and upper-middle-income earners will take up half of GDP consumption by 2030. Some 326 million people are projected to join this group in the next 15 years or so.
Theme parks’ development in China has seen three phases so far.
After the baby steps of the 1991-2000 period, Chinese leisure companies increased scale until 2015.
From then on, the industry marched into what real estate consultancy Colliers calls the “third era” of mega projects, international brands, intellectual property or IP rights, and Chinese finance.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate Entertainment is set to open the first movie-centric vertical theme park in Asia on July 31.
The park — located in Novotown, a tourism and entertainment project in Hengqin — includes 25 attractions from six global film franchises and Chinese blockbusters: “The Hunger Games” “The Twilight Saga” “Divergent” “Now You See Me” “Gods of Egypt” and “Escape Plan.”
According to Vice.com, using VR simulator experiences, the theme park offers access to life-like encounters with the characters of “Divergent” and “The Twilight Saga.”
The “Hunger Games” experience even allows participants to fight in the rebellion and escape the Capitol found in the trilogy’s third movie. There’s also a multiplayer interactive room replicates the most secure prison in the world, making participants find their way out.
The attractions and rides are accompanied with dining options and a Lionsgate Cafe. There’s even a salon at which guests can get their hair and makeup done in the over-the-top style of the films.
The theme park promises authenticity, letting visitors immerse themselves in the worlds they see on the big screen.
They say you should never meet your heroes, and that you shouldn’t work with children or animals. But what if you get the opportunity to actually work alongside one of your heroes… and he’s a wisecracking rabbit?
As a child of the 70s, I grew up watching Looney Tunes, Hanna Barberaand the Super Friends every day after school and again on Saturday morning, and they became an intrinsic part of my personality in a way that only a few other pop-culture canons have. In particular, I was obsessed by Looney Tunes, which deeply informed not only my sense of humor, but also my awareness of things like classical music & jazz, political & social commentary, and even what “camp” humor meant (after all, Bugs was my first exposure to drag), and by my teens I realized just how savvy and grown-up those original classic cartoons were. There’s probably not a day when I don’t quote Bugs Bunny during casual conversation (“I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque”, “My stars, such an interesting monster”, “What a maroon!”, “Could that’ve been a Gremlin?” and “Think fast, rabbit” being particular favorites in heavy rotation).
Being asked to translate that iconic world of Warner Bros. Classic Animation & DC Entertainment characters into a theme park wasn’t just a personal childhood dream come true, it was an extraordinarily daunting responsibility for the entire team. We all saw it as a huge opportunity and responsibility to elevate what we knew and loved about these characters — that they weren’t just “for kids”, but rather slyly sophisticated on so many different levels, for both kids and adults — and bring that to life in a whole new immersive way that’s never been seen before.
This was partially a response to the local audience — the history of the actual movie studio, its iconic Spanish-revival architecture, the production of the first “talkie,” all things that most Westerners have at least a passing knowledge of — mean absolutely nothing to a polyglot audience made up of mostly non-Western cultures. The audience here knows Warner Bros. characters not through a Western lens of cinematic nostalgia, but through watching shows on their digital tablets, or streamed onto their flat screens with their families at home. The “making” of Warner Bros. cinematic and animated media doesn’t resonate there as much as it has in the West — just the stories and characters and worlds they inhabit.
A large-scale project like this is always innately collaborative — and as the team dug into these stories and character worlds during concept design, it was clear that everyone on the team had their own personal favorites, something that spoke to them on a deeper level than just a “cartoon”. For me, it was capturing that 1940s American gusto, optimism and unique evolution of slapstick and vaudeville tropes into the entirely new animated art form of Merrie Melodies. Art Director Allie Dunn dug into mid-century modern to envision how the swanky headquarters of the ACME Company might have looked in the 1950s.
Designer Scott Johnson grew up on the modern-stone-age suburbia of The Flintstones, obsessing over every tiny visual gag and joke in Bedrock. Composer Lou Fagenson wrote custom scores for our Scooby-Doo & Flintstones attractions with a staggeringly encyclopedic knowledge of the Hanna-Barbera musical canon of his youth. Masterplanner Brad Kissling is a lifelong fan of DC Super Heroes, and brought his love of comics to life by realizing the physical urban locales of Metropolis and Gotham City.
We all poured our hearts into every last detail, because we knew we were the first to ever be given the opportunity to realize these characters and stories at this scale, at this level of immersion. Not only did we want to please our clients, and ultimately entertain the park guests — we wanted it to be something we ourselves would completely geek out over if we came to visit.
Ultimately, obsessive detail and immersive scale are only a component of what makes this park completely unique — a means to an end, if you will, and a fantastic privilege for us to indulge in as designers thanks to the staggering scope of this project. The thing that makes it most unique is the heart and soul of the team behind it, and their dedication to putting their genuine, authentic love of these characters into every attraction. My favorite story from my last day in the park before coming home: I saw a group of young local Emirati woman enjoying the park in full Abaya (black cloak and headwrap), and above each of their smiling faces, atop their headscarves, sat a pair of souvenir Bugs Bunny ears pointing skyward (the Bugs ears are a huge hit — take that, Mickey). I said to them, “I really like your ears!” Without hesitation, one of them flashed an enormous ear-to-ear grin and said giddily, “they make me so happy!”
Designing this park feels, in many respects, like passing the torch of everything the team has always known and loved about these characters to an entirely new audience. They may arrive with only a basic familiarity, but by the time they leave the park, we want them to fall in love just like we have our entire lives.
Following the acquisition of Réalisations-Montréal, Thinkwell Group is welcoming Ron Morissette back to the team to expand and accelerate growth plans for Thinkwell.
Montréal / Los Angeles (July 17, 2019): Thinkwell Group is pleased to announce the return of Ron Morissette as Vice President, Development for Réalisations-Montréal & Thinkwell’s Studio Montréal. In his role, Ron is responsible for the development of existing and new opportunities across Canada and the Eastern United States, with a focus on delivering innovative, interactive solutions from the company’s studio team in Montréal. Ron will also promote the technical research & development initiatives for Réalisations-Montréal through global strategic partnerships.
“Ron helped grow Réalisations since the company’s earliest days,” says Roger Parent, founding president of Réalisations-Montréal. “His return, which coincides with Thinkwell’s acquisition of Réalisations, will ensure a continuity of excellent client service for our past and future partners as we continue our growth as a part of Thinkwell’s global network.”
Ron brings more than 40 years of experience in technical production and sales within the entertainment sector to the organization. Prior to his return to Réalisations-Montréal and Thinkwell’s Studio Montréal, Ron was acting as General Manager for a major international systems integrator and was responsible for their Toronto operation. His experience includes work for past Olympic Games and World Fairs as well as international tours and broadcasts. He is also a past president of the Canadian Institute of Theatre Technology.
“I believe that our unique artistic approach combined with our R&D work in interactivity, video & projection mapping, and augmented reality within the realm of ambient intelligence will be a unique and differentiated contribution to Thinkwell’s worldwide projects,” says Morissette.
François Bergeron, Chief Operating & Financial Officer of Thinkwell Group, adds, “Bringing Ron onboard will help develop our growing presence in Canada, and his experience, energy, and dedication to partnership with our clients will be an asset to the organization globally.”
Réalisations-Montréal develops and delivers cutting edge interactive experiences that seamlessly blend art and technology. Founded in 2000 by Roger Parent, former Executive Producer and VP of Production at Cirque du Soleil, Réalisations conceives, invents, and perfects new technologies, including big data, artificial intelligence, real-time generative projection technologies, recognition systems, and more. Thinkwell and Réalisations collaborate in the earliest stages of design, testing and developing immersive interactive elements that can be seamlessly integrated into any guest experience.
Réalisations-Montréal is a Thinkwell Group company.
Lionsgate Entertainment World, to open July 31, will feature indoor themed rides and VR experiences inspired by the Hollywood studio’s movie franchises.
Lionsgate on Monday said its indoor theme park, which will bring Hunger Games- and Divergent-inspired attractions to China, will launch on July 31.
Lionsgate Entertainment World, through a licensing deal by the studio, will launch in Hengqin, China, an hour from Hong Kong, and will feature around 25 attractions based on the Hollywood studio’s film properties.
Lionsgate’s interactive indoor theme park will feature 3D and virtual reality experiences inspired by The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga andthe Divergent and Now You See Me movie franchises, as well as story backgrounds from other film titles like Escape Plan and Gods of Egypt.
“From escaping the Capitol to braving the mental and physical challenges of Dauntless to taking on a newborn vampire army with Jacob and the Wolf Pack, we can’t wait for fans to step into the worlds of their favorite films to create their own authentic adventures,” Jenefer Brown, Lionsgate’s senior vp of global live and location-based entertainment, said in a statement.
The indoor theme park aims to leverage the earlier box office success of Lionsgate’s tentpole movies in China.
Lionsgate partnered with the Thinkwell Group and Village Roadshow Theme Parks to create the Lionsgate Entertainment World immersive attractions like Hunger Games – Mockingjay Flight, a 3D motion simulator ride; The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride VR experience; and The Divergent Series – Fear Simulator.
There are also dining experiences like the Hunger Games-inspired Capitol Club, Peeta’s Bakery and the Lionsgate Cafe.
Lionsgate’s location-based entertainment business includes separate attractions in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The studio earlier announced the launch of the outdoor theme park Lionsgate Movie World at Jeju Island, South Korea.
The eagerly-awaited Lionsgate Entertainment World is set to open this summer at Novotown Hengqin. Asia’s first movie-themed vertical indoor experience centre will feature some of the world’s most popular film franchises. These include The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, and Now You See Me.
More information about the park was released at IAAPA Asia Expo 2019. Attendees at the event in Shanghai enjoyed an introductory video. It featured several new ride concepts and never-seen-before insights into the new park. Blooloop caught up with Selena Magill, General Manager at Lionsgate Entertainment World and Kelly Ryner, President of Thinkwell, Asia to find out more about the park’s development.
Lionsgate has offered six of its most successful global film franchises as the story backgrounds for the park’s attractions. These are fan favourites The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, The Divergent Series, Now You See Me, Gods of Egypt, and Escape Plan.
Lionsgate Entertainment World – coming soon!
The project has been in construction for almost three years. Now, many of the closely-guarded secrets around the park are being released. The park will be opening to the public shortly, as Magill explains, “Opening is going to be sometime this summer, we are reallyreally close. It’s such an immersive and integrated facility we need to get it just right. We need to put the final touches through all that planning and we can’t wait to shout it from the rooftops.”
Lionsgate Entertainment World is in the Novotown precinct. The location is home to a mix of residential properties as well as a large shopping mall and entertainment offerings. Magill adds that there is a lot of other construction taking place in the area. “A Hyatt Regency hotel will also open later this year and a National Geographic Experience. This is another great family entertainment centre, so once we are all open together, we will all compliment each other. The other facilities will open later September/October time but we will be the first to open.”
Magill recently celebrated her 28th year in the business. She began working for Village Roadshow Theme Parks in 1990, at Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast. “Warner Bros Movie World was being built next door,” says Magill. “I was finishing school and thought ‘that looks reallycool’ and didn’t know that much about theme parks. I was there for the opening of that park at the age of 17, in 1991.”
“Across that time I’ve opened many different theme parks. This is my 10th, which is amazing and the first for me in China, but I’ve worked across all our brands in Australia.” Magill says, “We had Warner Bros Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild – one in Vegas, one in China, we opened both of them last year. We have Movie World in Germany, both parks in Las Vegas. Then our waterparks and a number of smaller attractions as well as our resorts.”
“I’ve worked across pretty much every department including show and entertainment, operations, food and beverage and marketing, before returning to a more operational role. Part of every role I’ve done previously has given me a very deep understanding of the theme park industry. Now I’m able to apply this in China. This role is a great way to bring that theme park knowledge to this huge emerging market.”
Lionsgate Entertainment World and Thinkwell
The attractions industry is booming in China. To stand out from the crowd, the park chose Thinkwell Group to ensure a well-rounded, showstopping project. Thinkwell also worked on Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. This means that the company has a strong movie-based theme park background.
The park includes theming and rides based around six of the most popular films in China. Magill says these titles continue to be popular and to resonate with audiences in China. “With Thinkwell, they can create these worlds and the level of immersive-ness in this park. Bringing the Hunger Games, the Twilight Saga, Divergent, Now You See Me, all these films across different levels to life.”
Bringing the IP to life
Because the new park is indoors, the environment is easy to control. “In the Hunger Games, for example, you walk into the Capitol,” continues Magill. “If you’ve seen the films, the Capitol is so opulent and elegant and so over the top. So too is our whole floor dedicated to that IP. In there we have the Capitol Club restaurant, which for a theme park you’ve never seen anything like it! It’s opulent, its marble, it’s gold, it’s rich. It’s not your normal theme park. We want people to live in that world.”
“In Now You See Me, we literally recreated streetscapes from the film. These are the streets of Macau, bringing pieces of that to life. There will be magicians. Portuguese tarts and food offerings are integrated into that world too.”
An immersive experience
Lionsgate Entertainment World will feature actors who interact with guests, for an immersive experience. It will also include live shows and walking entertainments.
“One of the things that makes us different, is that rather than having set show times, we are doing it in a way that is more pop-up style. You walk down, there is a magician and you turn around and there is somebody entertaining. There will absolutely be live shows in the atrium. In our live show space, we can set shows up very quickly. You can see it standing down on the first level but also looking down from upper levels. It’s a very unique show space that will be very different,” says Magill.
Lionsgate Entertainment World worked with CAVU Designwerks, Dreamcraft Attractions, Framestore and ETF on the technology behind the new rides.
EFT Rides created The Twilight Saga – Bella’s Journey. This articulated vehicle ride is basedon the much-loved Twilight franchise. “You get to see Bella and Edward kiss in the forest, and there is a lot of environmental effects, says Magill. “You are in the snow you feel cold, there is wind, you can smell the pine needles”.
CAVU, Dreamcraft Attractions and Framestore worked with the park to create The Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride. This is a simulated motorbike ride. “We have taken that simulator technology which most people are used to seeing in a group vehicle. Now it is just you on a motorbike. You can grab the throttle and make it go. You literally sit on the bike, put a seatbelt on and the VR goggles come down, and from that moment it’s unbelievable.”
A VR motorbike adventure
The ride features a pre-show with the character of Jacob, in his garage. Once guests put on the goggles, they are transported to this workshop. Amongst the sounds of the forest, Jacob explains he needs help to defeat the Volturi. Then, the bike takes off.
“It has that technology where you can see your own hands, you can see the person next to you in the VR world. The first time I rode it, I absolutely loved it! I screamed like a girl. There are parts when it is very interactive. You can actually personalise your experience, by pushing your bike to go down a certain route or path. You can have a different experience to the person next to you who has gone a different route. It is incredible technology. The realness of it, even though it is VR technology is amazing.”
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight – Rebel Escape
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight – Rebel Escape is the first enclosed motion simulator in mainland China. The story focuses on the character of Katniss and her need to escape from the Capitol. The state of the art simulator features a 6DOF (degrees of freedom) motion base. This supports a 30-person cabin.
From quick eats to fine dining
The park is home to the Lionsgate Cafe. This is an all-day dining, sit down option. It includes many different Chinese and western options, suitable for quick dining.
For fine dining, guests can experience the Capitol Club. “The food there is amazing,” says Magill. We have tried really hard to make sure our food offering is to a much higher standard. The way it is plated, some of the food is themed, based on the IPs and so on.”
Lionsgate Entertainment World also features the Oculus Lounge. This is an octagon shaped bar with several interactive tables. Guests can unlock a secret menu while they are drinking by interacting with the table. The atmospheric bar adds a different, quirky touch to the IP. “When you come in, it’s quite dark, it’s quite moody,” says Magill. “We do molecular cocktails, mixologists – it’s going to be my favourite part of the park!”
The park also has food carts, like most theme parks tend to do. However, they are all themed to be in keeping with the IP. For example, the one in the Macau themed area will sell Portuguese tarts.
An indoor adventure
The whole attraction is retrofit since the building’s first purpose was not to be a theme park. This added some extra challenges to the design and construction process. Magill explains, “We had to do a lot of work re-enforcing the floors, making sure the walls were strong enough – we have a two story roller coaster in there! It was incredible how we could fit it all in. When I stand up on the Twilight Floor in the forest and look down – it’s quite epic.”
The park features a huge central chandelier that is four storeys high. It is made of screens, so the images are constantly changing. “In a lot of theme parks, they use screens for content or to upsell products buy this or do this, ours is very on brand,” says Magill. “You will just see the IPs, the flames of the Mockingjay, the cards in Now You See Me, it’s beautiful on these screens.”
The best in the business
Thinkwell Group is a global design and production agency. It creates custom, content-driven experiences for companies and brands in the physical world.
For Lionsgate Entertainment World, the choice to work with Thinkwell was a straightforward one, as Magill explains. “Thinkwell is just the best in the business when it comes to immersion and theming. And also when it comes to creating, conceptualising and creating the vision. They have really been the most wonderful partners. They have finished designing and creating the project which is coming to life in just a few weeks.”
Ryner agrees, “It really has been amazing, this really was a turn-key opportunity for us. Lionsgate said we want you to design and produce this, we want to sign as few contracts as possible. We put together a rock star team – it wasn’t about what is the cheapest way, it was what is the BEST way. The best way to develop something that was really setting the new gold standard in China but also internationally.”
Pushing the limits
“We have just come off of creating Warner Bros Abu Dhabi which is the polar opposite,” continues Ryner. “Lionsgate is all about 16 years and up, edgy, dare I say it sexy IPs, as opposed to cartoon characters. So for us to get to play in a completely different sandbox like that and create something that pushes our limits with technology…its something we can’t do in a kids park.”
For Thinkwell, the project involved a lot of innovative design and some real firsts. Not only is the attraction the world’s first vertical park, but it is also the world’s first use of motorbike path changing technology.
“Considering its only 25,000 sqm, what we crammed into the space – it’s very special,” agrees Ryner. However, the design process was not without its unique challenges. “The great thing about space issues is the challenges force you to new creative ideas,” says Ryner. “There are things that came out of playing around with this complicated space. The design is wholly unique because the space isn’t like a flat ground like Warner Bros. So challenges always end up bringing the best out of everyone. I’m really proud of some of the solutions we came up with and how we bring people up into the vertical-ness of the space.
Setting the bar high
The park estimates visitor figures of 1.4 – 1.5 million people per year. The location of the new attraction will be a key factor in its popularity. It lies in close proximity to Macau and Hong Kong, thanks to the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau bridge, as well as the whole greater bay area.
There is a huge local population within reach. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is also nearby. With the shopping mall and the new National Geographic Experience, there is a lot to draw visitors to the area. Lionsgate Entertainment World is likely to attract a majority of visitors from mainland China, the greater bay area, and Macau. However, it also expects a percentage of international visitors.
“We want them to have a good time at the theme park and return lots of times. We want people to come to the park for that same reason. The other thing with our park is you can come and dine at the cafe, or visit the studio store and not have a ticket to get into the park. People with tickets can come and go in the park. If they want to pop out do some shopping and pop back in they can do that as well.”
Lai Sun Group
Lai Sun Group is a Hong Kong-based company with a number of developments in entertainment and real estate. It developed the site.
“They have also been fantastic for us to work with,” says Magill. “Lai Sun Group brought on the IPs which is Lionsgate. They then worked with Thinkwell to conceptualise the theme parks and Village Roadshow to take on the operations and run the park.”
Lai Sun Group developed the building previously and has since re-done it for Lionsgate Entertainment World. The mall, hotel and welcome centre were already in place. Magill explains, “Before Lionsgate was in the plans, the area was going to be more shopping mall space. The fact that they have been able to fit all this into the exterior of the building, a big jelly bean, to retrofit all of it and make such good use of the space is incredible.”
On Saturday, May 4th, Thinkwell Group CEO Joe Zenas, returned to his alma mater, Michigan State University, to serve as the College of Music keynote speaker for its 2019 commencement exercises. He was also a recipient of the College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award.
As a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Music, Thinkwell Group CEO Joe Zenas was invited to back to his alma mater to serve as the 2019 keynote speaker. Joe graduated from Michigan State University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance and cognates in philosophy, computer science, and economics. After graduation, Joe was able to translate his understanding of music and arts management into a career in experience design. Now, as CEO of Thinkwell, Joe attributes much of his success to being able to ‘conduct’ a team.
“We are delighted to welcome him back this spring,” said College of Music Dean James Forger, “and we’re certain his message to our graduates will be insightful and inspiring.”
“I’m incredibly fortunate to be a part of the Michigan State University community, and I am grateful and honored to receive the College of Music Distinguished Alumni Award,” adds Zenas. “It was inspiring to be back on campus for this year’s commencement and to be able to share my story and experiences with this year’s graduating class.”
For more details on the award and Joe’s return to Michigan State, check out the below additional resources:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some of Lionsgate’s most popular film franchises from “Hunger Games” to “Twilight” will be brought to life when the studio opens what it calls the world’s first vertical theme park in China this summer.
Lionsgate Entertainment World will offer several adventures including a virtual reality motorcycle ride based on “Twilight,” a maximum-security prison breakout like in “Escape Plan” and a replica of The Capitol lobby from “Hunger Games,” complete with shops where guests can fashion themselves in the film’s distinctive couture.
More than 25 rides and virtual reality experiences will pack a sleek, futuristic looking bean-shaped building that stands 10 stories high. The theme park, which will also include attractions based on films such as “Divergent,” ″Now You See Me” and “Gods of Egypt,” is scheduled to open in July on Hengqin Island located in Zhuhai, China.
“We found a way to create this theme park experience inside of one box over multiple floors,” said Jenefer Brown, senior vice president of Global Live and Location Based Entertainment at Lionsgate.
“We created experiences that are immersive, that tell stories and are organic to the brands,” she said. “It’s a mix of all the cutting-edge attractions that you’ll find in entertainment right now.”
Brown said Lionsgate decided to create its first theme park to expand their international brand into China where films like “Twilight” and “Gods of Egypt” are popular. She said the studio hopes to capitalize off Zhuhai’s emerging status as a tourist destination and its proximity to Macau, which is considered the “Las Vegas of China.” She said the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park in Zhuhai has already drawn tens of millions of people.
The Santa Monica, California-based company expects to have around 1.5 million park goers this year.
“We would complement Macau,” Brown said. “The idea is to have Vegas and Orlando right next to each other and create this super tourist destination. … People are already coming here. But we’re on the early side in terms of development on the island. It’s growing into this dedicated kind of entertainment tourist place and virtual containment vessel.”
Lionsgate Entertainment World would be the first movie-themed park on Hengqin Island. Disney has a theme resort in Shanghai, and Universal has plans for a park based on its franchises, including “Fast and the Furious,” in Beijing.
The theme park will be a part of a large destination called Novotown, a multi-phase project that includes a hotel and office towers along with retail dining and entertainment. Future phases include plans for the National Geographic Ultimate Explorer and Real Madrid interactive experiences, as well as an international school will be built offering British-based education.
Here are some of the theme park’s other features shown to The Associated Press during a recent sneak peek of the park’s design and attractions:
FLYING, AND FASHION, IN “HUNGER GAMES”
Based on the four-part film series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, park goers will journey through a motion simulator 3D ride experience called The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Flight Rebel Escape. It starts on the streets before riders board a vehicle that gets picked up by a hovercraft that flies through The Capitol.
Guests will also have the opportunity to venture around the lobby area of The Capitol where they can get their hair, makeup and even nails done to look like a citizen of the “Hunger Games” films, including the look of chaperone Effie Trinket.
Restaurants will feature a “Hunger Games”-themed menu with different dishes inspired by the film’s various districts.
BIKING WITH WOLVES IN “TWILIGHT”
Guests will have a chance to spend time in Forks, the town where author Stephenie Meyer based her vampire novels before they were turned into movies.
Twilight Saga: Midnight Ride offers a chance for four to hop on a motorcycle and take a virtual ride with Jacob Black and a pack of wolves on a dirt-bike adventure through the moonlit woods while an evil creature roams the area looking for blood.
Guests will control their bike’s speed, which path it takes and see other riders during the excursion.
Twilight Saga: Bella’s Journey will be an indoor amusement ride that highlights key moments from the films including Bella Swan’s relationship with her vampire husband Edward Cullen and encountering The Volturi, the most powerful coven of vampires.
SOARING WITH THE “GODS OF EGYPT”
Gods of Egypt: Battle for Eternity will be a virtual reality roller coaster based on the 2016 film about Egyptian deities. Riders on the high-speed amusement train ride will don headsets and soar through ancient Egypt during an epic battle between good and evil.
PLOTTING AN “ESCAPE PLAN”
About 20 people work together to break out of a maximum-security prison in Escape Plan: Prison Break. The group faces a climbing challenge course and crawl through tunnels to escape to freedom.