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China to rival Hollywood with world’s most expensive film studio

China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, has announced a plan to build the world’s most expensive film studio at a cost of around 50 billion yuan (£5.1 billion) – the biggest single investment in production facilities ever.

Wang, chairman of The Wanda Group, unveiled the project at a ceremony in Qingdoa, Northeast China, attended by Hollywood A-listers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ewan McGregor and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The project is planned to transform China’s film industry into a cinema superpower, and the world’s biggest within just five years.
Dubbed The Oriental Movie Metropolis, the new facility will include a massive 10,000-square-metre studio, featuring 20 sound stages and the world’s first underwater studio. An exhibition centre, shopping mall and Universal Studios style theme park are also planned for the site.

“The future of the world’s film industry is in China because we have 1.3 billion people, and we will have the biggest film business in the world by 2018,” Wang told the ceremony. "China's economy is growing fast but it's still only half the U.S. economy, but in less than 10 years it will catch up.”

The Wanda Group has already signed agreements with established studios and talent agencies to have around 30 foreign movies, and 100 Chinese films, produced at the facility every year.

"Whether we can attract foreign production companies to come here depends on the market,” added Wang. “They will definitely come as long as production costs are low.”

Last year Wang, who is a key advisor to China’s Communist party and according to Bloomberg the 128th richest person on the planet, acquired US cinema chain AMC Theatres for $2.6 billion (£1.6 billion) – making Wanda the world’s largest cinema operator. The company recently moved into film production, in particular helping fund Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut ‘Man Of Tai Chi’.

China’s influence on Hollywood has become more recognised this year, as Chinese box office takings helped rocket ‘Skyfall’, ‘The Hobbit’ and most recently ‘Iron Man 3’ into the exclusive billion-dollar club. In April, director Michael Bay announced his intention to cast several high profile Chinese stars in the upcoming ‘Transformers 4: Age of Extinction’ to further appeal in the region.
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