China’s Dalian Wanda courts Hollywood with film subsidy

18 Oct, 2016 9:34 am

LOS ANGELES – Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin, the billionaire who has been on a buying spree in Hollywood, urged US filmmakers to increase collaboration with China as he unveiled a subsidy to lure productions to his new multi-billion-dollar studio.

Wanda and the local government will give a 40 percent rebate of certain costs for qualifying producers who film at the studio in Qingdao, China, the company announced at a red-carpet event in Los Angeles. The incentive, which will be paid from a five-year, $750 million fund, was outlined in a video narrated by American movie star Matt Damon.

“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, China’s richest man, has been the biggest Chinese dealmaker in the US film business, buying “Jurassic World” producer Legendary Entertainment and US cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings.

He is now trying to lure Hollywood filmmakers to the new production studio and entertainment district in Qingdao, a city on China’s eastern coast.

Legendary will shoot sequels to “Pacific Rim” and “Godzilla” at the facility, Wanda said, adding that Lions Gate Entertainment Corp and others have also agreed to shoot there.

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” to their movies, Wang said. “You cannot try to just make money in the Chinese market and disregard Chinese tastes,” he said.

Some US lawmakers have raised concern about China’s growing investment in Hollywood and the impact it might have on media in the United States. Wang said he was speaking from a “business perspective” in encouraging films that appeal to Chinese audiences, not a political one.

The Qingdao studio will compete with several US states and countries that offer tax incentives to attract productions. The 40 percent rebate will apply to certain costs including stage and equipment rental, set construction and accommodations. Dalian Wanda is a real estate and media conglomerate. Two of its key listed units are Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties and Wanda Cinema Line Corp. -Reuters

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