By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
The theme park company Falcon’s Beyond has inked a massive deal in China with the retail experience company K11 Group.
The agreement combines the licensing-focused experiential company Falcon’s Beyond with K11, one of the world’s largest companies working in the area of retail entertainment. The deal will initially see Falcon’s Beyond working on a debut project as part of a joint venture with Raging Power Ltd, an arm of the K11 Group.
Through that partnership, the two entertainment and retail trailblazers will be collaborating on multiple new entertainment franchise, and building out location-based entertainment (LBE) attractions across China.
“As a global giant who shares our mission to develop state-of-the-art, game-changing consumer entertainment experiences, K11 Group is an ideal partner for Falcon’s as we continue our international growth, particularly across Asia, by expanding popular franchises across the world,” said Falcon’s Beyond CEO Cecil D. Magpuri. “Firmly established in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, we now have our sights set on China, the world’s second largest consumer market, as we continue to grow our company and bring innovative consumer experiences to people around the world.”
Falcon’s alliance with K11 Group reinforces an already strong track record in China and advances its investment in a global expansion through a larger presence in Asia, where it recently opened a flagship office in the Philippines.
Over the past two decades, Falcon’s has developed a variety of consumer entertainment attractions, incorporating some of the world’s most iconic brands, for clients in Asia. Through its K11 Group joint venture, the Company is, for the first time, creating immersive experiences built around new, proprietary IP it has developed.
The first new attraction experience being developed by Falcon’s under the joint venture is the underwater adventure themed Vquarium.
The new attraction will provide a a science fiction-like experience that is rooted entirely in the natural world, as Vquarium will be a story-driven interactive adventure that explores oceans and waterways around the globe in a wonder-filled narrative that offers encounters with virtual sea life to entertain, educate, and inspire.
Vquarium will be introduced through an interactive attraction that allows visitors to simulate going on an immersive undersea voyage. A multi-room, multi-level experience, the attraction will also provide creative food and beverage offerings, along with retail components.
The first Vquarium immersive LBE site is expected to launch in 2025 at K11 Group’s heralded 11 SKIES “retailtainment destination.”
11 SKIES is anticipated to be the largest retail entertainment landmark in Hong Kong, where K11 is based. Vquarium’s design shows it will have a total gross floor area of 3.8M square feet (353K m2), and 800 shops including 120 dining concepts. The massive indoor entertainment hub will feature eight world class attractions, and three office towers providing professional services, including wealth management and medical services.
Vquarium will be located between Hong Kong International Airport and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which connects to the Greater Bay Area, serving the populations of three major populations centres. The HK$20-billion project is expected to entice Hong Kong residents, visitors from across the rest of China, and travellers passing through the airport.
Following its debut at 11 SKIES, Vquarium is planned to expand to nearly a dozen additional locations across China in the coming years. Falcon’s also expects to launch Vquarium in other high-profile markets outside of Asia.
One of Falcon’s Beyond’s core strategies has been to extend experiences beyond the theme park and into the lives of its fans, often through licensing deals, or apps that bring the experience back home. This latest venture is no exception as Falcon’s says it plans to expand the Vquarium experience beyond LBEs, across all forms of entertainment, including media content, video games, and consumer products.
The growth of the Vquarium franchise follows Falcon’s acceleration of its first global franchise, Katmandu, which originated at Katmandu Park in Mallorca. Now, the company has opened a second park – Katmandu Park | Punta Cana – in the Dominican Republic, and expanded the IP to consumer products and gaming. The company is even developing an animated series based on the Katmandu franchise
This deal is particularly well timed for the experiential entertainment company, as it has announced its plans to become a publicly listed company through a definitive merger agreement with FAST Acquisition Corp. II (NYSE: FZT). FAST is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) founded by Doug Jacob and headed by Sandy Beall . Upon the closing of the transaction, the new combined company will be named “Falcon’s Beyond Global, Inc.” and is expected to be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “FBYD.”
“The new global alliance comes ahead of Falcon’s planning to become a publicly listed company on Nasdaq, strengthens its position in the world’s second largest economic market, and accelerates the Orlando-based company’s global expansion,” the company said in a statement. “The joint venture simultaneously solidifies K11 Group’s position as one of the world’s foremost purveyors of retail entertainment experiences and provides them with co-ownership of attractive IP to launch through LBEs and beyond, including entertainment and consumer products, across China.”
In doing so, Falcon’s Beyond appears to have found the ideal partner.
K11 Group was founded in 2008 by Adrian Cheng, an entrepreneur who is renowned in China and across Asia for creating a unique brand that combines culture and commerce through all of its projects, which together have created brands spanning multiple sectors in Greater China and around the world.
One of K11’s projects is its flagship K11 MUSEA destination, which took 10 years to build, and is currently the company’s most ambitious “cultural-retail” development, and has reinvigorated Hong Kong’s waterfront with Cheng’s vision of creating a local “Silicon Valley of Culture”.
In addition to its K11 Art Malls, K11 Group operates K11 ATELIER as a network of office buildings for the next-generation workforce, alongside K11 ARTUS’s luxury residences for worldly travellers, and K11 Select, which is a “cultural sandbox” for the modern generation. To cultivate cultural richness through its operational goals, the group also runs the Hong Kong non-profit K11 Art Foundation to incubate Chinese artists and curators, and the K11 Craft & Guild Foundation to preserve traditional Chinese crafts and bring them into the future.
The group also manages and drives K11 KULTURE ACADEMY as an open education platform and K11 Future Taskforce, a consulting and market research institution.