Some Firms Have Been Cutting Ties
Somewhere in the Congo section of Paramount's Kings Dominion, across from a Tomb Raider ride that sends people 60 feet into the air, workers have been pouring the foundation for the newest monument to corporate media synergy: the Italian Job Turbo Coaster, a thrill ride based on the modestly successful 2003 Paramount Pictures release starring Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron.
Come April 1, when the park opens its gates, people will no doubt line up for the chance to re-create the film's climactic chase scene. But while hundreds take turns racing down a subway staircase and crashing through a billboard in a replica Mini Cooper S, the park's owner, CBS Corp., will be heading the other way, out of the theme park business.
CBS's decision last month to sell Paramount Parks is the latest example of how media-entertainment conglomerates are recognizing the limits of what synergy can deliver.
The concept is not dead. Just go to Orlando or Anaheim, Calif., where Walt Disney Co. parks still stand as the model for how to use cartoon characters, movie plots and theme-park rides to reinforce one another: Disney announced yesterday that first-quarter profit at its parks rose 51 percent vs. the comparable period a year earlier.