The biggest development in the international incentives arena is offered at Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group's estimated $8 billion studio in Qingdao, China. As Wanda announced at a splashy event in Los Angeles last fall, projects that shoot at the Wanda Movie Metropolis receive a 40 percent rebate, bankrolled by the regional government and Wanda from a development fund worth $750 million to be spread over five years. The rebate for a qualifying film is capped at $18 million.
Wanda's Qingdao studio is now approximately 30 percent complete, with 15 soundstages and 11 production workshops up and running. Leading studio operator and production services firm Pinewood Shepperton served as the lead consultant on the project. Among the stages in operation is a high-tech, airport-hangar-sized structure of 6,000 square meters (about 65,000 square feet), which ties a stage at Pinewood London as the world's largest film stage. Once completed, Wanda's Movie Metropolis will contain China's largest outdoor and indoor underwater stages, 221 acres of backlot and 45 soundstages comprising nearly twice the square footage of Universal, Hollywood's biggest filmmaking facility.
Central to Wanda's pitch to the international industry is the assertion that Qingdao, a historic port city on China's eastern coast, can be a comfortable, even pleasant, place to produce entertainment. To that end, Wanda is spending billions to construct a small city's worth of upscale amenities around the studio, including luxury hotels, restaurants and bars, upscale condos, Asia's largest theater, a convention center, shopping malls, four indoor theme parks, an international hospital and even a school.
Soon, buzz will begin to travel through the international productions services grapevine on what it's actually like to work in Wandaland. The pipeline from Legendary Entertainment - which Wanda bought for $3.5 billion in 2016 - is already flowing through the studio (Pacific Rim 2 and Godzilla 2 are the first projects at Qingdao), while Lionsgate and ArcLight Films also have signed on to shoot there.
A version of this story first appeared in the March 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.