The world-renowned troupe of acrobatic performers, Cirque du Soleil, is now set to tour Shanghai in late 2017, before setting up a permanent base in China in 2018.
At a recent publicity event in Shanghai, the troupe said that it was selecting a suitable stage for its performances to take place within a month in the second half of 2017, Shanghai Daily reports.
Meanwhile, the group has plans for setting up a permanent stage show at a new performance venue in Hangzhou in 2018. The Huntington Post reports that this new show will be a rendition of the Chinese box office smash hit Avatar, to be titled “Toruk.”
Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian performance group founded in 1984. The company has performed in 48 countries so far and plans to present 18 new acts around the globe this year, reports CNN Money. Last year, the troupe was bought by US private equity firm TPG Capital and Chinese conglomerate Fosun Capital Group, with plans of expanding its business in China.
Previous attempts to break into the Chinese market have proved rough. The performance troupe had to terminate a 10-year contract in Macau in 2012 after ticket sales fell short the first three and a half years. The group reasoned that the problem was with the visitors to Macau, who were there to gamble, and only to gamble. A year later, their performance stirred up controversy in China when the internationally infamous Tank Man photo was flashed across the screen during a show in Beijing.
The company, which in 2012 was forced to make a huge number of layoffs, nonetheless seems confident about expanding the show in China. “We think that the market is ready for us,” chief executive Daniel Lamarre said at the time.
As the Chinese middle-class grows, companies have started betting more and more on that demographic’s spending power. No longer are the Chinese portrayed as “penny-pinchers” or diligent workers resistant to leisure. Instead, the country is now home to the second largest box office in the world and a brand-new Disneyland.
“We have an objective to become one of the global leaders in businesses driven by lifestyle needs, which are quickly taking root in China,” the no-longer-disappeared Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang said in a statement, according to CNN Money.
Still, several analysts are hesitant about how much the Chinese middle-class is willing to spend on entertainment and leisure. According to the Huffington Post, last year, China’s 740 million urbanites averaged $4,350 of disposable income, but thus far they haven’t been spending that money as freely as some predicted.
But hey, considering the recent overwhelming success of the sub-par fantasy flick Warcraft in China, anything is possibly, especially when combined with Avatar.
Of course, China does have its own acrobats for Cirque du Soleil to compete with.
By Robin Winship