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) - Faced with critics who thought he was crazy, Walt Disney mortgaged his house and sold a one-third stake to the ABC TV network to raise the $17 million he needed to build Disneyland.
Today, Disney is a Dow Component. Now, a small entertainment company wants to use the same model. The Independent Film Development Corporation (OTCBB: IFLM) is a publicly held company with a small film and television library. But, by applying some Hollywood magic, IFLM wants to turn distressed resort properties into themed hotels, surrounded by theme parks.
"We want to make a resort that can appeal to kids of all ages," said IFLM co-founder Jeff Ritchie. "The resort will be themed as a haunted European Manor, rife with Hollywood-designed supernatural encounters."
The tiny company's move is based on the dream of Ritchie's: to convert existing resort properties into family-friendly vacation destinations. Ritchie, a 20-year Hollywood veteran, hopes to emulate Disney, whose theme parks are among its biggest profit centers.
"Ghosts, ghouls, zombies and cryptids like Bigfoot, will haunt the resort, the rides and the grounds," he continued. "This resort makes real all the good-natured fun people love about things that go bump in the night."
IFLM has signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire on a joint-venture basis its first project for development. Located in New York's Catskill Mountains, the 500 acre property contains a 320-room hotel, a golf course and a spa, as well as a lake and a forest. Tentatively named "Hilltop Manor," they plan to build a themed resort hotel
, designed to give guests an amazing and unique vacation experience.
"The inspiration comes from two places," said IFLM Marketing Director C. David Pugh. "First are the classic horror films of the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s. The second inspiration is a bit more modern, and they're seen every night on cable. Programs on bigfoot, river monsters, exterrestrial encounters and unsolved mysteries are everywhere. People must like it. It occupies a lot of prime space in prime time."
Some may say the company might be overly ambitious, but IFLM's CEO, George Ivakhnik, believes that "if you build it, they will come." Not content with only one project, IFLM seeks other distressed properties or undervalued casinos that have the development potential.
"We see the resort as a lens that focuses on the mysterious things that live in the woods and under the waves," said Pugh. "Besides, we've got zombies and little green men -- what's not to like?"
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