Articles & Notes — September 24, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Billionaire to build giant Hollywood-like film studio complex in China

wang-jianlinThe richest man in China, Wang Jianlin plans to spend $8.2 billion (50 billion yuan) on building the Chinese version of Hollywood in the city of Qingdao, Washington Post reported.

Jianlin said recently that his company – Dalian Wanda Group – will be building a giant film studio complex in a bid to dominate China’s rapidly growing movie market.

The Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis’s 20 studios will include a permanent underwater studio and a 10,000 square-meter (108,000 square-feet) stage that Wang said would be the world’s biggest.

The facility will also include an Imax research and development center, cinemas and China’s biggest film and celebrity wax museums. The first phase is planned to open in June 2016 and it will be fully operational by June 2017.

A yacht marina, eight hotels and a theme park will be built as well – to attract tourists.

The company has signed a preliminary deal with “a number of global film and television giants and talent agencies” to shoot about 30 foreign films a year. It did not name the companies.

Wang also hopes to attract more than 50 Chinese production companies to make at least 100 domestic films and TV shows a year at the studios, where sets will simulate locations from Europe, the Middle East and China’s Ming and Qing dynasties.

Dalian Wanda, which operates cinemas, hotels and department stores in China, last year bought the U.S. cinema chain AMC for $2.6 billion.

In an interview, Wang spoke of his plans to expand in China’s movie market, which overtook Japan to become the world’s second biggest after ticket sales rose 36 percent last year to $2.7 billion.

“There’s no single company in the whole world that has a big-scale production base, and at the same time has screening and distribution channels. Wanda Group is the first one in the world,” said Wang, Wanda’s founder and chairman.

“As long as we build the film production park and produce better content, we’ll certainly be the most successful company in this industry.”

He predicted China’s film market would become the world’s biggest in five years, and compared it to a big cake that foreign studios would love to share.

Hollywood has been eager to expand distribution in China as domestic box office revenue stagnates. But the Chinese government tightly controls the market, allowing in only 34 foreign films per year for national distribution. At least 14 of them must be made in 3-D or for the big-screen Imax format.

Wang was named China’s richest person earlier this month with a fortune of $22 billion by the Hurun Report, which follows China’s wealthy.

Forbes also said Wang rose to the top spot on its China rich list, with his estimated fortune rising to $14 billion.



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