Made in Asia: China

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When state-owned China Film Group opened its new digital film production base in a Beijing suburb in August this year, it became the group's second production facility in the city after the Beijing Film and TV Production base.

Located at Huairou, two hours northeast of Beijing, the new 2 billion yuan ($292 million) facility covers 131 acres, with 16 indoor studios and one digital production studio.

The first film under production at the new facility is "Mei Lanfang," director Chen Kaige's biopic about the Peking opera master.

According to the group, the Huairou base will have facilities for film production, postproduction and animation production, and will be able to handle 80 films, 100 digital movies and around 500 TV episodes each year.

Elsewhere, Hengdian World Studios, the country's largest independent studio, announced this month that it will allow domestic and overseas filmmakers to use its two indoor studios completely free of charge, beginning Aug. 28.

Before the move, Hengdian charged 2,000 yuan ($292) per day for the bigger of the two studios, and 1,500 yuan ($219) per day for the smaller one.

Located in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, Hengdian has not been charging for outdoor shooting since early 2000.

"The move will help reduce costs for all filmmakers and attract more production companies to Hengdian," says Zeng Yuling, head of company affairs at Hengdian Studios.

Zeng adds that the move had nothing to do with the opening of China Film Group's Huairou base.

Besides slashing prices, Hengdian also plans to establish a joint-venture digital filmmaking center with Hong Kong-based Salon Films to provide postproduction services.

"The establishment of this digital center will greatly enhance Hengdian's competitive power and make our services portfolio more complete," Hengdian president Liu Zhijiang says.

Hengdian is famous for its full-scale replica of Beijing's Forbidden City, with Ming and Qing dynasty palaces. It recently played host to Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2000, Zhang Yimou's 2002 epic "Hero" and last year's Lionsgate release "The Forbidden Kingdom."

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