Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group is set to unveil an unprecedented production incentive in an effort to lure Hollywood movie shoots to eastern China, where his conglomerate is building the world's largest filmmaking facility.
During a landmark visit to Los Angeles on Monday, Wang will present a new 40 percent production rebate for film and TV projects that shoot at Wanda's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility, according to individuals familiar with the plan. The funding of the generous incentive will be split between the Qingdao regional governments and Wanda.
Rebates and production incentives are a familiar feature of the global screen industry, as territories jockey to attract the business and promotional benefits of film and TV production. But Wanda's 40 percent subsidy is easily among the world's most generous, and could catapult China to the front ranks of the global chase to secure big-budget productions. For example, the incentive in Louisiana, among the most generous in the U.S., is 30 percent. In Asia, Malaysia's rebate of 30 percent had been among the most lucrative. Incentives of this scale also tend to be financed by regional governments; no private enterprise has attempted to jointly bankroll a major incentive itself.
During an address Monday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Bing Theater, Wang is expected to stress his company's commitment to working with Hollywood, arguing for the mutual benefits of cross-border collaboration between the U.S. and China, the world's two largest film markets, respectively.
It is understood that Wanda has been discreetly shopping its new incentive to the Big Six studios for some time. The company is expected to unveil a raft of production commitments from Hollywood partners at Monday's event.
Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, the sequel to Legendary Entertainment's Pacific Rim, will be the first U.S. production to shoot at the Qingdao studio. Local sources say the production will begin building sets there in two weeks. Wanda acquired Thomas Tull's Legendary for $3.5 billion in January. The studio's pipeline can be expected to be a regular client at the parent's new production lot. Much of Legendary's upcoming period fantasy epic The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon, was filmed last year on sets constructed within the grounds of the studio development project, although the facility's soundstages weren't yet completed.
Qingdao Movie Metropolis is set to open in phases leading up to a grand opening in August 2018. Some 15 completed stages and 11 production workshops will be up in running by the time Pacific Rim: Maelstrom arrives. The completed $8.2 billion studio development will span some 408 acres and comprise 30 stages, including the world's largest soundstage, as well as China's largest water tank. The studio is the anchor to a broader real estate development plan that features luxury hotels, an indoor theme park, upscale residential condos, an international hospital, a grand theater and a yacht club.
Wanda put the project on the map in 2013, when it announced its plans with a red-carpet event in Qingdao featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Harvey Weinstein, Nichole Kidman and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as some 15 other Hollywood VIPs.