UPDATED with Genting lawyer statement: 20th Century Fox has filed a countersuit in its ongoing legal battle with Genting Malaysia Berhad over a planned Fox World theme park on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. The move comes after the developer sued Fox and Disney in November accusing the soon-to-be-merged companies of “improperly” pulling the plug on a “first-class, world-class” park that would have been Fox’s first.
After the original filing, a Fox spokesperson called the suit “entirely without merit,” saying Genting has been the one failing to meet agreed-upon deadlines for years. The counterclaim (read it here) filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in California drilled down on those notions.
The deal in question centered on a 2013 licencing pact that gave Genting rights to certain Fox intellectual property—including Planet of the Apes, Independence Day, Ice Age, Alien and Predator—for use in the park to be located at Resorts World Genting casino resort in Genting Highlands, Malaysia.
Genting’s original suit claimed it was kneecapped after doing everything asked of it by Fox, but that Fox killed the deal by demanding the park open in “an impossible-to-meet deadline of 30 days.” Fox says in Tuesday’s filing — citing breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair deadline, and a demand for a jury trial — detailed numerous instances where Genting did not adhere to its obligations.
“Genting’s failure to ‘soft open’ the Park by June 2018 gave Fox the right to terminate the agreement without regard to whether Genting was at fault,” it read.
“The fault for these failures lies with Genting, and Genting alone,” it adds, detailing the progress of the parks’ development in its 35-page filing. “Genting’s failures to adhere to its obligations and deliver on the agreed-upon schedule resulted from a mixture of Genting’s incompetence, inexperience, and rank indifference to its contractual obligations.”
Genting’s lawyer, Kasowitz Benson Torres partner John V. Berlinski, responded to the counterclaim later Wednesday, saying “incompetence” and “inexperience” go both ways.
“Fox’s attempt to blame Genting is only to be expected and is designed to divert attention away from its own incompetence and inexperience,” he said in a statement. “Just two months before termination, Fox was more than willing to open Fox World, but only if Genting paid them well in excess of the amounts the parties originally agreed upon. Genting has a proven track record in delivering high quality world-class theme parks and will prove that Fox’s termination was both unfounded and improperly directed by Disney and Fox’s parent company, Twenty First Century Fox.”
The new suit, officially filed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Entertainment Group, LLC and FoxNext, seeks monetary damages at least including $9 million in license fees, $37.2 million in guarantee amounts/royalties, and $196.2 million in travel reimbursements “entitled to under the terms of the [original Memorandum of Agreement], plus interest, as well as consequential damages.”
Disney was part of the original lawsuit as it is nearing completion of its 71.3 billion deal to acquire much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television business.