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Fox and Disney are sued over Malaysia theme park

Fox and Disney are sued over Malaysia theme park
20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles last year. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

A Malaysian resort company is suing 20th Century Fox Film and Walt Disney Co. over its planned amusement park, alleging that Fox has improperly pulled out of an agreement to license the studio’s intellectual property to the park.

The park, known as 20th Century Fox World, has already experienced delays. The company behind it is blaming the Disney-Fox merger, alleging damages of more than $1 billion.

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On Monday, Kuala Lumpur-based Genting Malaysia Berhad filed a breach-of -contract lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles saying that Fox was pressured to terminate the agreement by its soon-to-be owner Disney. The company alleges that Disney wants to avoid doing business with organizations involved in the casino business.

“Disney wanted no association with a gaming company like [Genting Malaysia] due to Disney’s ‘family-friendly’ brand strategy,” the lawsuit says.

20th Century Fox Film declined to comment. A Disney spokesman said in a statement: “The claims made against Disney in this matter are utterly without merit.”

Genting Malaysia was planning to open the Fox-themed park on the grounds of its resort and casino complex about an hour’s drive outside Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. The company alleges in its complaint that it promised to pay Fox annual license fees and royalties, with an understanding that Fox would start receiving payments only after the park opened.

But Genting Malaysia says that Fox twice leveraged its approval rights to amend the deal and start receiving annual fees and royalties immediately.

The lawsuit also alleges that Fox was largely responsible for the park’s delays. It says Fox missed its own deadlines for issuing approvals, backtracked on the approvals it did give and failed to provide guidelines for its intellectual property, such as how the Fox logo should appear on the park’s entrance.

Genting Malaysia said it is looking to recoup its more than $750-million investment in the park, as well as punitive and other damages.

10:47 a.m.: This article was updated with a statement from Disney.

This article was originally published at 4:40 p.m.

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