The Magic Castle has long been a fixture of the Los Angeles magic community, as well as a place where illusionists from all over the world come to show off their skills. For the first time in its decades-long existence, the Magic Castle will be spreading its roots and opening up a second location in China, according to a report from Variety.
The new location will be built in conjunction with Chinese tech and entertainment firm The Novaex Group and team led by magician Andrew Goldenhersch. Novaex has exclusive rights to the Magic Castle brand and intellectual property for use in hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment venues in Hong Kong, China, Macau, and Taiwan, and, according to the report, “will create a new style of magic experience, with state of the art technology playing a major part in the development.”
“We are looking forward to the creation of this first project together with NOVAEX that will showcase the over 55-year legacy of The Magic Castle and the long history of magic in China,” said Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen at the launch event on Friday.
This is huge news for the Chinese and international magic community, especially considering that the biggest show in the country (seen by over 270 million viewers) is a variety show titled The Amazing Magicians.
The Amazing Magicians is China’s most-watched television program, with over 270 million viewers per episode—which easily makes it the most-watched television program in the world. Canadian magician Mahdi Gilbert, who fooled Penn & Teller and has since toured the globe performing close-up magic, recently got a chance to appear on the program and wrote about it in his email newsletter (which you can subscribe to by visiting his website). Here’s an excerpt:
The biggest TV shows in the USA get around 5-10 million viewers per episode. The last numbers I got in from China indicated that we were getting over 270 MILLION viewers per episode. The show (in English) is called, The Amazing Magicians and right now it is the biggest television show in the world. Most of you reading this live in the Western world so you’ve probably never heard of it but it does not make it any less big or important.
It really was a roller coaster getting this TV show made as everyone involved can attest. I was only there for a few days and I feel like I could write a book about what went on behind the scenes. But no one sees the work or the drama, they see the final product that’s delivered and that’s what we did, we delivered.
Magic has been dead in China and the Eastern world for many decades and for various reasons (political, economic, legal) so most of the country has no conception of magic and magicians outside of fiction and CGI superhero movies. For many of the hundreds of millions of people who tuned it, it was their first experience of magic. It’s so amazing to me that I could bring magic into so many people’s lives.
The Amazing Magicians usually airs edited clips of each magician that performs on the show, but the producers decided to show the nearly-unedited 23-minute-long presentation and interview, which you can watch in the video above.