DiCaprio finds joy in Macau project with De Niro, Scorsese

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Against the Odds, a New Macau Casino Opens.

MACAU—Macau scion Lawrence Ho has just done something nearly unimaginable in this Chinese gambling hub: He opened a casino-resort without a VIP gambling room. As his latest multibillion-dollar Macau casino opened its doors with a sparkle of Hollywood stars, James Packer raised concerns his Sydney high-roller dream is slipping further away.Australian billionaire James Packer was all smiles as he walked the red carpet tonight, hand in hand with his singing sensation girlfriend Mariah Carey at the official opening of his new $US3.2 billion casino resort in Macau.

MACAU (AP) — Leonardo DiCaprio says being able to work with his two cinematic father figures on a short film commissioned for the opening of a Macau casino resort was “a slice of heaven.” He spoke in the Asian gambling mecca ahead of Tuesday’s debut of “The Audition,” which also stars Robert De Niro and was directed by Martin Scorsese, who also attended the press briefing. “To be able to have scenes with Bob and being directed by Marty is a small slice of heaven for me as an actor,” DiCaprio said. His $3.2 billion Hollywood-inspired Studio City also stands out from its Macau counterparts for what it does have, including a figure-eight Ferris wheel embedded in its Art Deco facade, a Batman flight-simulation ride, a three-theater magic complex and a television recording and broadcast studio.

The new casino resort, Studio City, is Hollywood-themed and Hollywood glamour was certainly in Macau tonight as black limousines, carrying Hollywood’s elite, lined the casino strip. He described the two as like his “fathers in the world of cinema.” The 15-minute film’s premiere is part of the star-studded lineup to launch Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.’s Hollywood-themed Studio City resort in Macau. The casino’s ability to draw such star power attests to the rising influence of the special Chinese region, which has grown into the world’s top gambling market. Mr Packer said his father sowed the seeds for Crown’s push into Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, in 2004 as China looked to open up its only legal gambling jurisdiction to international competition.

Scorsese described the film as “reality-based with some humor.” The plot has DiCaprio and De Niro invited to Macau by Scorsese to compete for the same part in a movie. Compared with the same period last year, revenue this year is down 36%—a drop of $12.5 billion—as Beijing’s crackdown on corruption and capital flight cripples the city’s once-booming VIP business. Studio City brings a new element to the city in terms of non-gaming amenities, but analysts say its opening will not change the industry’s gloomy outlook. “Until the macro situation is resolved, it is unlikely that new property openings no matter from which operator will add significantly to industry revenues,” said Michael Ting, analyst at CIMB Securities in Hong Kong.

Last week, after learning it would get just 250 gambling tables instead of the 400 it had promised Studio City’s lenders, Melco Crown said it would “proactively engage” those lenders to amend the terms of the loan. Melco received permission to operate 250 gaming tables, more than the 150 tables predicted by analysts but less than the 400 tables Melco had requested from the government.

And there are not that many.” Mr Packer also revealed Melco Crown has yet to recoup its sunk investments in Macau by instead pouring profits back into new casinos which he said is at odds with the other five concessions operating in Macau. Junkets, which historically dominated Macau’s VIP business, bring high rollers to casinos, lend them money and then collect debts back home—generally in mainland China.

He added that if that figure was correct and the film was used over three years, that would equate to an annual $11m spend for the company, which he hinted was good value. “It is the most famous marketing campaign in the world,” he said. Mr Packer confirmed its Barangaroo casino on Sydney’s harbour would not open until late 2020 and said he was concerned it was falling behind in the development schedule. “It is important that we now get started on it,” he said. “Since we announced Sydney we have announced Las Vegas and Melbourne. Since opening in May, Galaxy has grown its market share among the six Macau operators, even though it posted a 29 percent revenue drop for the third quarter. Mr Packer last week warned investors at Crown Resorts’ annual general meeting that its Melbourne and Perth properties had to lift returns as the domestic operations were no longer sheltered by gains in Asia.

Tonight’s event will also see Ms Carey, who was wearing a long sleeved, long black dress, perform four songs in a performance rumoured to have cost in the “high six figures”. In Sydney last year, a payment disagreement between Mr Packer’s developer Lendlease and the NSW government delayed the development’s planning approval process. Crown is waiting for the approval of an application to allow remediation works to start. “I think Mike Baird is doing a good job … the important thing now is that we get started,” he said. Ho, using his company’s hour-long earnings conference call to launch a tirade against Macau authorities over limits on gambling tables and restrictions on foreign labor that are making it difficult for him to manage his next resort, whose opening is planned for next year. Wynn called local policy “so ludicrous that it defies rational conversation,” declaring five times that he had never dealt with anything similar in his 45 years in the casino business.

Within days senior government officials called local Wynn executives to a meeting, and the day after that the government issued a public statement reiterating their policies and expressing regret over Mr.

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