Shapiro to NAB: We're becoming a content company

Posted Wednesday, April 16, 2008 9:38 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Theme park operator Six Flags Inc. is aiming to become an entertainment company with its own characters to entice thrill-seekers to its parks much like The Walt Disney Co., its chief executive said Tuesday. CEO Mark Shapiro made the comments in a keynote speech at the gathering of the National Association of Broadcasters. He said Six Flags' previous strategy was based on its roller-coaster hardware, but now it would focus on building anticipation to its rides through stories and characters, while upgrading the attractions.

Read more from AP via The Herald-Tribune.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 11:02 AM
eightdotthree's avatar I wish them the best of luck. I am not sure adding corporate sponsorships and advertising in line is improving the guest experience much, but it will help them pay down debt which is their #1 priority. They just have to be careful to not turn off their guests even more in the process.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 12:51 PM
Sure, Shapiro. I see one roller coaster that has real potential theme at 2 parks now. That would be Dark Knight coaster. What is Evil Kinevil, Tony Hawk, X^2, and Goliath? You slapped a name on the other rides, and now it's themed. Oh, wow you put boards of Tony Hawk in the station. Aren't rides like Two Face, Mr. Freeze, Joker's Jinx, Batman the Ride, and Superman themed to like Disney than also?

What the heck is this guy smoking?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 1:25 PM
This is a good strategy if done right, sadly SF has shown no ability to create there own in house characters, as evidenced by Spy Girl last year at SFGAM which was a bomb in every single way.Creating your own in house characters is going to take many years and alot of money, or buying a company that has characters that are known country wide, which also will cost alot of money. You dont create characters like those used by Disney/Universal/Cedar Fair or the new NIck park at MOA overnight,it takes creativity that SF has not shown in the past or have they hired someone from the outside to do this for them. All the characters SF uses now are the creation of someone else. Most of these characters come from movies/comic books/cartoons,it takes alot of marketing/money to make characters known which again isnt a strong point of SF.So again, good luck to SF as its not certain they have the time needed or the money required to make any of this happen.
*** This post was edited by Bob O 4/16/2008 1:33:44 PM ***
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 7:46 PM
What is Six flags connection to broadcasters?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 8:22 PM
The connection could be that he is there to network with content creators who are presenting products at NAB.

Also, they do own part of Dick Clark Productions, so they are not completely starting from scratch. It certainly is quite a challenge however to create a brand that connects to the demos they are chasing, which can then be translated into a ride or attraction.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 9:05 PM
So what, they're going to start their own production studio? Their own animation house? Watch it be some crappy, low rent CGI garbage farmed out to Indonesia or wherever they farm out such digital crapola.

If this is their big new game plan, I'm even less sanguine about the fate of Six Flags than I was.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 11:01 PM
Bob O -- To the best of my knowledge, all the characters Cedar Fair uses are the creation of someone else. Charles Schulz gets the credit for creating the Peanuts gang, not Cedar Fair.
Thursday, April 17, 2008 9:50 AM
I don't think they were implying that CF created it's own characters, only that it is a long, difficult process to createda character that stirkes a nerve with a majority of the population. (ex: Peanuts at CP)

I may be wrong in my thinking though, it's happened before.


Thursday, April 17, 2008 11:26 AM
rollergator's avatar When I first read this, my thought was "why would a company over $2B in debt with stock price in the toilet be contented"?

Then I realized it meant con'tent, not content'. LOL, still not sure what exactly they think is so marketable, most of the good IPs at SF parks are W-B characters or DC comics....

Thursday, April 17, 2008 1:08 PM
Soggy's avatar Well, they created Mr. Six... he was well recognized and liked. Even if the average person didn't know his name, they at least knew him as "The Old Dancing Guy from Six Flags." In fact I think that was their biggest positave during 'those years.' Of course they axed Mr. Six & that campaign, so... yeah...
Thursday, April 17, 2008 1:28 PM
I realize that CF using Snoopy under a licensing agreement, but it is a character recognized all over the country by most people. And to create snoopy etc takes alot of time/money and years.
SF doesnt have the time/money/talent to do something similar.

While some people may recognize Mr Six, he wasnt beloved and I didnt recall people wanting to take that charater and base movie/comics/tv shows around.

Thursday, April 17, 2008 1:57 PM
Gator I read the headline the same way. I was like why would SF/Shap be contented with how things are currently going? Lol.

I liked Mr. Six, but I understand he scared small children. Then again so does Santa Claus in the mall at Christmas.

Thursday, April 17, 2008 4:23 PM
Soggy's avatar Although Mr. Six's fame was rather limited, I think the amount of recognition he did receive is as good or better than what you could hope for, if you're a Six Flags muckedy-muck. In other words, creating a new charictor or set of charictors would be more difficult and unlikely to garnish any following.

Lighty the Lightpost, however, is an instant classic. Get ready for a phone call, Jeff.

Monday, April 21, 2008 2:06 PM
Now is the summer of dissing their content!
Monday, April 21, 2008 2:22 PM
Why does Shapiro continue to bring comparisons to Disney into the conversation? Newsflash-- you ain't Disney and you ain't ever gonna be Disney. Every time you mention it, you remind people of what Disney is and does and invite a comparison that blows SF away.

Maybe SF will create a character called Nighty the Nightpost and claim it as their own.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 2:13 PM
What, no Shakespeare fans? Bunch of unibrows... ;)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008 2:18 PM
rollergator's avatar ^^ More likely Nighty the Nightstick... :)

Oh, and the Disney comarisons reek of GL taking on CP head-to-head. Someone remind me how THAT turned out... ;)

^E.S. I just now saw it, and like it....still not sure what "content" there is to diss...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 2:38 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar I don't think it's a challenge to Disney, Gator.

More like a "This is what we hope we can do - something along those lines" sort of thing.

Makes more sense than saying you're striving to be another run-of-the-mill regional park. Because shooting for average inspires a lot of confidence in people, right?

I don't see a problem with essentially saying, "Disney is the benchmark. We're aiming for that."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 3:14 PM
rollergator's avatar I don't see a problem with essentially saying, "Disney is the benchmark. We're aiming for that."

Absolutely not. Don't strive for less than perfection....not that Disney is "perfect", but they're clearly the standard-bearer. And striving for setting an admirable, yet lofty, goal. Step one is to improve, and I think that's where they're headed...

Six Flags' previous strategy was based on its roller-coaster hardware, but now it would focus on building anticipation to its rides through stories and characters, while upgrading the attractions.

That's the ticket, Marky... ;)


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