Dalian Wanda courts Hollywood with film subsidy
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[October 18, 2016]
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.
"You cannot try to just make money in the Chinese market and
disregard Chinese tastes," he said.
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Some U.S. lawmakers have raised concern about the growing investment
by Chinese companies 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.
Wang also criticized the current emphasis by U.S. studios on sequels
and remakes of films that previously played well in China. "This
will probably not work forever," he said. "Now the Chinese audiences
The Qingdao studio will compete with several U.S. 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.
"It's good because China doesn't have any incentives," said Rob
Cain, a consultant and partner at Pacific Bridge Pictures. Wanda
needs to entice filmmakers to try out the facility and "come back
and say good things about the experience", he said.
Dalian Wanda is a real estate and media conglomerate. Two of its key
listed units are Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties and Wanda Cinema
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Himani
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