China’s Wanda Group has announced plans for a $8.2bn (RMB50bn) film and television studio complex in the Chinese city of Qingdao at a ceremony attended by Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman and a host of other US and Chinese stars.
The 3.8 million square metre Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis will include a 10,000-square metre studio complex, an underwater studio, outdoor shooting lots, a theme park, cinemas, hotels, a yacht club and other leisure developments. The first phase is set to open in June 2016 while the project is slated for completion in 2017.
In addition to DiCaprio and Kidman, other stars attending the lavish launch event included Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Travolta, Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Zhang Ziyi, Jet Li, Tony Leung and Donnie Yen. US film execs were also in attendance including The Weinstein Co chairman Harvey Weinstein.
Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin said the development aims to boost China’s influence in the global film industry, which despite the size of the country’s box office, remains weak. “We desperately need a brand to boost the image and position of China’s film industry,” he told local press.
Wang also said that he has struck agreements to bring around 30 international productions to the studio complex, along with around 100 local Chinese films.
Wanda is also launching a film festival in the coastal city, the Qingdao International Film Festival, to be held in September starting from 2016. Wang also said he has reached an agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which will provide support for the annual event.
Recently named as China’s richest man, Wang last week donated $20m to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its new Los Angeles film museum set to open in 2017.
After acquiring US exhibitor AMC for $2.6bn last June, Wanda is understood to be eyeing further acquisition targets in the US and Europe.
The company has also entered film production and investment with projects such as Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man Of Tai Chi, Jackie Chan’s Police Story 2013 and recent release The Palace.