IAG December 2015 - page 4

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EDITORIAL
AndrewWScott
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AndrewWScott
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FlickFlicked
S
ome of you many have heard of the infamous Voynich manuscript. Named after Wilfrid
Voynich, a Polish book dealer who purchased it in the early 20th century, the Voynich
manuscript has been radiocarbondated to the early 15th century andhas beendescribed as
theworld’smostmysterious book.Why? Becauseno-one can read it. That’s right, hundreds
of yearsof analysisby theworld’sbest code-breakershave yieldednothingbut frustration, despite the
bookbeingneatlyandclearlyhandwrittenusingdistinct charactersorganized intowell over200pages
of orderly but codedwords andparagraphs. The book’s secrets have remainedhidden for centuries.
The Voynich manuscript may be a book no-one can read, but right here in Macau we have a
21st century equivalent – amovie no-one can watch! “What movie is that?” I hear you ask. It’s
The
Audition
, the very movie that itself played a starring role during the opening of Macau Studio City
in late October. Starring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Brad Pitt, and
produced by Brett Ratner of RatPac Entertainment, the actors were reportedly paid US$13 million
apiece for clockingon for amere twodays –nicework if you canget it.
James Packer is the Co-Chairman of Melco Crown, the company that operates Studio City and
owns 60% of it. In an interview with
The Los Angeles Times
on Studio City’s opening day, Packer
described
The Audition
as “the bestmarketing campaign in the history of the world.” It ought to be,
as the total budget for this 14-minutemasterpiece has been widely reported as a whopping US$70
million. It is noteworthy that Ratner and Packer are partners inRatPac Entertainment, and of course
De Niro also owns the world-famous Nobu restaurant and hotel brand that can be found at Melco
Crown’s City of Dreams Manila and Crown Melbourne – the latter of which Packer is the largest
shareholder of.We’re certainly keeping things in the family here.
From what I hear De Niro and his Hollywood buddies had the power to effectively block most
distributionof thefilmoutsideChina, includingonStudioCity’swebsite, if theyweren’t happywith it.
Theyweren’t. And they arenot theonly ones. Letme quote theone review I was able to findonline:
This is not too great of amovie. The actors and Scorsese all play themselves in slightlymore
over-the-top versions. The dialogs weren’t really that great and basically it is just what you could
expect: a promo ad for a new casino. Wish this had better dialogs andmore interesting action,
but it’s not the case unfortunately and the actors also seempretty hammy and over the tophere.
Not recommended.
Without exception, every person I have spoken to who has had the privilege of seeing
The
Audition
has described it in less thanflattering terms. “Lame” is aword that has come upmore than
once. “Boring” is my description. I would not be surprised if De Niro, DiCaprio, Scorsese and Pitt
want to see
The Audition
buried and forgotten like a Presidential Candidate’s compromising sex tape
from the ’80s. The film is conspicuously absent fromStudioCity’swebsite.Whenwe quizzedStudio
City about the availability of the
The Audition
, we were told, “It is available in all the guest rooms.
There no need to show it around the building as it is available online.” It is true that the movie is
in the rooms at Studio City and also can be viewed in China online (such as on the Chinese video
platform iQiyi) – but this is hardly themajor worldwide distributiononewould expect for a film from
fourmembers ofHollywood royalty.
TheMacauconcessionaireshavehadaverychequeredhistorywith themarketingof theirproduct.
Let’s be honest, whoneedsmarketingwhen your revenue grows fromUS$6billion in 2005 toUS$45
billion in2013–anaverage year on year growthof 29% for eight consecutive years?Who couldblame
the concessionaires for being less-than-polished in themarketingdepartment?
But all that has changed now. The GGR contraction for 2014 was 3% year-on-year and for 2015
we’ve experienced a dramatic 36% contraction year-on-year to date. Then factor in the massively
increased stream of supply that has already begun to come onlinewithGalaxy 2 and StudioCity and
will continue for several years to come withWynn Palace, Parisian, MGM Cotai, Lisboa Palace and
the uber-luxurious (and uber-hyped) Louis XIII. All of a sudden it’s going to be important to spend
onmarketing and spendbig in this vastlymore competitive environment. No company, not even the
multi-billiondollar StudioCity, can afford towasteUS$70million.
TheAudition isnot absolutelyworthless.HavingDeNiroand company at theStudioCityopening
addedseriousA-list starpower. But “thebestmarketingcampaign in thehistoryof theworld”?US$70
millionworth?Absolutely not.
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