|More than 60 Chinese and international movie stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, attend the opening ceremony of Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis on Sunday.[Xu Chongde for China Daily]|
Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd announced on Sunday plans to establish a huge movie industry project in Qingdao, Shandong province, with an investment of more than 50 billion yuan ($8.2 billion).
The 3.76-million-square meter Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis will have a film and television industrial park, a film and TV convention and exhibition center, resort hotels and a yacht club.
Wanda prepares film, TV industrial park
More than 60 Chinese and international movie stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, attend the opening ceremony of Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis on Sunday.[Xu Chongde for China Daily]
"We spent about four years considering the project," said Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group, one of China's leading property conglomerates.
Wang said the company originally had intended to build just a movie studio, but given the unstable cash flow and high risk of the film and TV industry, it decided to extend the project to include tourism and commercial property.
"We value highly the importance of the ratio of cash flow over liability, and the cash flow of the tourism industry and commercial property is stable and predictable compared with the film and TV sector," Wang said.
Back lots in the film and TV industrial park will feature multiple scenes, including European settings, ancient Chinese capitals in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and the Arab world.
Wanda Group has reached preliminary agreements with a number of global movie companies and casting agencies to ensure the facilities are put to good use. Deals have been made for about 30 foreign movies a year to be shot in Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis. In addition, more than 50 domestic film and TV production companies are scheduled to produce around 100 films and TV series there per year.
Wanda is also planning to host an annual Qingdao International Film Festival, starting in 2016. Deals have been signed for the festival with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the United States, the China Film Association, and world's top four talent agencies — CAA, WME, UTA and ICM. The festival is in the process of being approved by government departments.
The planned event will the first time in 86 years that the academy has supported a film festival outside the United States. In the past decade, both Cannes and Tokyo have repeatedly asked the academy to support their film festivals, but without success.
"China's movie box office revenue will surpass North America's by the year 2018 and will double it by 2023, because the 1.3 billion Chinese people are becoming more affluent, while there are an additional 4,000 cinema screens each year," said Wang.
Hawk Koch, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said the academy is increasingly eager to take part in international partnerships.
"The collaboration between us and Wanda is the right thing happening at the right time and in the right place," he said.
In a forum after the project's launch ceremony, Hollywood producer and power player Harvey Weinstein said the Qingdao project provided a good platform for global filmmakers to promote the art of moviemaking.
"Of course, we want to make movies about other cultures and based in other lands, but we don't have the knowledge. With the Qingdao project, it's possible to partner with someone with that knowledge," said Weinstein.
Huang Qunfei, general manager of Beijing New Film Association Co Ltd, one of China's largest theater chains, shared his enthusiasm for the project.
"It seems likely that Wanda will become a major company in China's film and TV industry in the near future on account of its commitment to the sector and its management skills," he said.
The first phase of Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis is expected to open for business in June 2016, and the entire project will come into operation in June 2017.