Sands China Ltd. is giving Shrek and Kung Fu Panda a home at its Macau gambling resorts.
The casino operator controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson has entered into a licensing agreement with Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc. to use those and other cartoon characters at three resorts in Macau’s Cotai area, the Asian equivalent of the Las Vegas strip.
Sands and competitors including Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. are adding shopping malls, spas and entertainment shows to woo middle-class, family-oriented Chinese visitors who provide wider margins in the world’s largest gaming hub. The premium mass segment has a “huge growth potential” and casino companies will gain from expanding family entertainment, Templeton Emerging Markets Group Chairman Mark Mobius said this month.
For Dreamworks Animation, the deal will be part of efforts to diversify revenue, Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg, said in an interview, without disclosing financial details. The Glendale, California-based company will receive licensing fees.
“The collaboration gives us a very nice home base here in one of the most important markets in the world and it’s a great branding opportunity,” said Katzenberg who in 1994 founded the studio with film director Steven Spielberg and billionaire music executive David Geffen.
The studio reported a fourth-quarter loss in February after its only new film in the period, “Rise of the Guardians,” failed to connect with moviegoers.
Dreamworks Animation in February also said it will cut 350 jobs this year to reduce costs and better compete in the crowded market for family movies.
The partnership with Sands will be its first non-movie project in Asia. Sands China’s resorts will use Dreamworks Animations’ characters on its parades, entertainment shows, swimming pools and hotel suites starting this summer.
Dreamworks Animation signed a similar alliance with the Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. in 2010, bringing characters from the silver screen on board to Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
More than 28 million tourists visited Macau last year, with 60 percent of them from China. New attractions coupled with added hotel rooms and China’s improved high-speed rail connections are drawing more mainland visitors to Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. Casino revenue climbed 14 percent to $38 billion in the hub last year.
Sands’ competitor Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. offers visitors the House of Dancing Water featuring motorcycle stunts. China Rouge, an private lounge at Galaxy’s resort, draws club-goers with Parisian cabarets and lavish Shanghainese decor.
“China is the fastest-growing, greatest place of opportunity on planet earth,” Katzenberg said. “I am confident this is only the beginning of something much bigger.”