An expansive A$10.5 billion (US$7.9 billion) movie studio has celebrated its grand opening in eastern China with its sights set on attracting major Hollywood projects.
The aptly-named “Movie Metropolis”, backed by Chinese firm Dalian Wanda, spans 162- hectares and is home to the world’s only integrated outdoor and indoor underwater studio. The complex is located in Qingdao, in eastern China.
Built partially on an artificial island, it also includes shopping malls, theme parks and a yacht club. In true Hollywood fashion, Qingdao Movie Metropolis’s Chinese name is on full display emblazoned on the hill.
Dalian Wanda Group’s billionaire chief executive Wang Jianlin said his his vision is to transform the city of Qingdao into a global film production hub.
“We will boost the Chinese movie industry development,” Wang said at the project’s opening ceremony.
While China is the world’s second-largest movie market, its movie production is still in the early stages of development.
The Wanda Group has been under government pressure recently, particularly over its high profile foreign investments including acquisitions of Legendary Entertainment and AMC Theatres.
The group has also been shedding assets with all five of its large international projects offered up for $6.6 billion. Its Australian holdings, worth $1.13 billion recently sold to Chinese developer Yuhu Group, included luxury One Circular Quay hotel and apartment development in Sydney and the Jewel three-tower project on the Gold Coast.
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Wanda had previously said the Movie Metropolis aimed to host five to six Hollywood projects in its first year of full operation in 2018. To date there’s been a lack of Hollywood projects taking up the offer.
However, generous subsidies for filmmakers have been promised by AMC Holdings and US studio Legendary Entertainment, controlled by Wang. The Qingdao Movie Metropolis opened its first studios in 2016, and has already hosted some Hollywood productions including The Great Wall which starred Matt Damon.
It marked the first major Hollywood film for a global audience to be set, filmed and produced in China.