As Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill wraps the Chinese portion of its shoot at Beijing Film Studio, another Chinese production powerhouse, Shanghai Film Studio, is gearing up to house another Miramax movie - John Dahl's The Great Raid, starring Benjamin Bratt and Joseph Fiennes.
Set builders at the studios are constructing Manila street scenes and a fort for the war movie which is set in the Philippines at the end of World War II. The film is currently shooting in Queensland, Australia and will move to Shanghai at the end of October. Shanghai Film Group Corp head of co-production, John Zhong, estimates the production will spend about $2m in China.
According to Zhong, Shanghai Film Studio and its Beijing counterpart are attracting a growing number of foreign productions as producers worldwide become aware of the advantages of filming in China. These include low costs, experienced crews - some of which have migrated from Hong Kong - and ample studio space and locations.
Earlier this year, Shanghai hosted two Japanese films - Spy Sorge, a $17m WWII drama directed by Masahiro Shinoda, and Toei's T.R.Y., a thriller set in the early 20th century. Talks are underway for two French films and a Canadian picture - Francois Girard's The Far Road - to shoot at the studio and British director Michael Winterbottom is considering shooting his forthcoming Code 46 in Shanghai.
"We've had a big increase in interest from foreign producers, particularly since 9/11," said Shanghai Film Group Corp head of co-production John Zhong. "Perhaps it's because China is now perceived as being safe and stable."
Established centres of runaway production, such as Canada and Australia, shouldn't lose sleep just yet over their new rival. Foreign productions that shoot in China have to be set up as a co-production with a local studio and are subject to script approval.
However, observers believe the rules are becoming more relaxed as China attempts to lure foreign productions to the studios at a time when domestic production levels are declining.