Cirque du Soleil CEO: We’re Becoming a Chinese Citizen

on June 16 2015 | in Daily Headlines Trending | by | with No Comments

Cirque du Soleil’s first attempt in China didn’t quite work out. Now the Canadian avant-garde circus is getting back on the trapeze.

Cirque du Soleil this week detailed plans for a China expansion that include a 2017 tour with a theme inspired by the movie “Avatar,” as well as a permanent show to be based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

The plans come three years after Cirque prematurely shut down a show in the Chinese gambling mecca of Macau. It ended its contract with the Sands China casino three-and-a-half years into a 10-year deal.

“We were too early in the market. Macau is a gambling city,” said Daniel Lamarre, chief executive of Cirque, in a press conference in Shanghai Monday. While there could be a market there in the future, he said, “for now there is none.”

This time, the company is taking a step-by-step approach with the help of a new shareholder, Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. “China is our No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 priority in the next few years,” Mr. Lamarre said.

About 20% of Cirque’s acrobats come from China, he said. “We’ve been bringing Chinese acrobats around the world,” said Mr. Lamarre. “Today, we’re becoming a Chinese citizen.”

Shanghai-based Fosun, which bought a 25% stake in Cirque for an undisclosed sum in April, has been on a shopping spree for assets abroad, including insurers, real estate, and resorts operators such as Club Med.

At a press conference in Shanghai on Monday, Cirque and Fosun unveiled plans to bring in a performance called Toruk–The First Flight, which will tour China in 2017 after its North American tour. It will debut in Montreal in December.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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