It was just over a year ago that Shanghaiist was with a company — whose CEO is rumored to have been beaten-up by thugs at least once and possibly arrested for fraud by Chinese police — that was commissioned to write up a business plan for a Chinese developer based in People’s Square, looking to add a little amusement park gaudiness to the Square’s collection of museums. The developer had been making frequent trips between London and Shanghai, working hard at luring the Tussauds Group into China. But Shanghaiist never heard anything more about a wax museum for the city and assumed Shanghai was safe. Until now:
Madame Tussauds, the famous waxworks museum, is to open a branch in Shanghai next summer. Models of local heroes such as kung fu king Jackie Chan and basketball superstar Yao Ming will join international celebrities such as David Beckham and Audrey Hepburn in the Chinese version.
The Tussauds group, which also operates Thorpe Park and Alton Towers in Britain as well as holding a one third stake in the London Eye, said yesterday Shanghai was an obvious next step for the company. It has branches in New York, Las Vegas, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.
Shanghai could do a lot worse than Madame Tussauds, which — Shanghaiist knows from far too much research into a topic we always had a hard time taking seriously — is widely recognized as the best in the wax figure trade. Anyone who has taken an ill-advised jaunt through the historical wax museum at the base of the Pearl Tower knows just how scary a wax figure can be. But Shanghaiist still can’t get past the feeling that looking at a very realistic wax figure is a little like being at someone’s viewing, where a mortician with a sick sense of humor decides to do away with the coffin.
The Guardian story does not indicate who the developers are for this project, or where the museum is to be located. So until we do know, Shanghaiist will not feel in any way responsible for bringing Shanghai one step closer to becoming the Niagara Falls of the East.
We know sometimes it’s hard to tell with Andy, but the photo above is of a wax figure of Mr. Lau.