China's Dalian Wanda courts Hollywood with film subsidy

Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:52am EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - China's richest man, on a buying spree in Hollywood, urged U.S. filmmakers to work more closely with the Asian country as he unveiled a subsidy meant to lure productions to his multi-billion dollar studio in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

Wang Jianlin, the billionaire chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, announced on Monday a 40 percent rebate of certain costs of filming at the studio. The incentive will be paid from a five-year, $750-million fund financed by Wanda and the local government, the company announced at a red-carpet event that Wang hosted in Los Angeles.

"This is an opportunity for Hollywood, not a competition for Hollywood," Wang said from a podium on stage at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, speaking through a translator.

Wang has been the biggest Chinese dealmaker in the U.S. film business, buying Legendary Entertainment - one of the producers of "Jurassic World" and "The Dark Knight" - and U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings.

He is now trying to lure Hollywood filmmakers to the new production studio and entertainment district in Qingdao. In a video narrated by American movie star Matt Damon, the complex is described as offering clear air, a temperate climate and a coastal location "that strongly recalls Southern California".

Legendary will shoot sequels to "Pacific Rim" and "Godzilla" at the Qingdao facility, Wanda said. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp and others have also agreed to shoot there, the company added.

Wang emphasized the rapid increase of moviegoing in China. He predicted the Chinese box office would match the biggest market - the United States and Canada - by 2018, and grow by about 15 percent annually for the next 10 years.

To succeed in that market, filmmakers need to feature "Chinese elements" in their movies, Wang said.   Continued...

Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, speaks at a business event at the Bing theatre in Los Angeles, California U.S., October 17, 2016.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni