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Macau casino spends $70 million on advert directed by Scorsese

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Las Vegas has long been the world’s most famous party towns - an entire city dedicated to letting you let your hair down!

But now Vegas has a new rival for its position as the most exciting, free wheeling party town around. The small peninsula of Macau, to the south of China, was formerly a Portuguese colony until it was returned to Chinese control. Like the British holding of Hong Kong it was made a Special Administrative District of the People’s Republic; meaning it has a high degree of legal and cultural autonomy.

The new financial power of Macau has been demonstrated recently by the fact that a new casino has splashed $70m on a glitzy advert to promote its opening starring Hollywood A Listers. This easily puts the ad as the most expensive of all time - blowing away the $33m Chanel spent on a campaign in 2004.

Macau’s leaders have used this freedom to de regulate the gambling and entertainment industry, pumping in billions of dollars and encouraging the world’s biggest casino chains to open new properties. The Venetian in Macau, for example, is even larger and more extravagant than its Las Vegas counterpart - with 39 storeys, 3400 slots and 800 gaming tables making it the world’s 7th largest building.

While Las Vegas gaming revenue peaked at $6.83 billion in 2007, Macau saw a $24 billion increase between 2010 and 2014, from $20 billion to $44 billion. Despite the staggering sums future growth has been stumped by a well publicised ban on Chinese officials travelling to gamble on luxurious “junkets”, which are now banned as they have become widely associated with corruption. This move, and the global economic slowdown, led to the first ever fall in Macau gaming revenues in 2014.

Although costs in Macau are low by Western standard a visit is still an unaffordable luxury even to the ever expanding middle class in China. Even those that enjoy gambling appreciate there are other, online options. Big operators like BetWay Casino are awaiting a change in online gambling law to expand into China. This would open up a big new market, but put more pressure on Macau’s visitor numbers.

The new advert is a promotion for James Packer’s new Studio City casino; expected to open on Macau’s Cotai Strip later this year. Martin Scorsese (director of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and King of Comedy), is behind the camera. The short film shows Scorsese inviting his favourite actors, Robert de Niro, Brad Pitt and Leonardo diCaprio, to compete for a role in a (non existent) upcoming title called The Audition - with the stars competing at the tables for their spot. Of course this audition takes our stars on a tour of the (frankly staggering) complex which cost between $2 - $3.2 billion to construct (estimates vary).

But what would draw these A list stars all the way over to South East Asia for a short shoot? It becomes even more inexplicable when you know that Pitt left his honeymoon early to take part. The answer is filthy amounts of money - each of the 3 acting leads was paid a staggering $13 million to appear - probably one of the most lucrative acting gigs in history.

Although the finished product is yet to go on general release its certain that the buzz surrounding this shoot won’t die away - which is exactly the point. As much as the draw of Hollywood talent the point of this shoot is to show that money is no object and Studio City is here to stay - we’ll have to wait and see if the early optimism is justified.


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The Movie Bit: Macau casino spends $70 million on advert directed by Scorsese
Macau casino spends $70 million on advert directed by Scorsese
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