China Studio Huayi Brothers to Build Theme Park Near Shanghai

The joint venture park will go up in the garden city of Suzhou.

CHENGDU, China – Huayi Brothers Media Corp. on Thursday announced plans to build a roughly 3 billion yuan ($462 million) movie-themed park in Suzhou, a city of six million about one hour's drive from Shanghai.

Beijing-based Huayi, China’s largest independent film and TV production and distribution company, said it will form a joint venture with the Suzhou Industrial Park Yangcheng Lake Island Development Co. and other investors.

The announcement comes on the heels of Huayi’s February announcement that it would build East Asia’s largest indoor film and TV studio in Shanghai as a part of a one billion yuan ($152 million) cultural tourism complex, and follows The Walt Disney Company’s April groundbreaking on a $4.4 billion theme park, also in Shanghai.

China’s nationwide box office receipts rose 64% to $1.5 billion making China the fastest growing movie market in the world.

Huayi said that 90 million tourists visited Suzhou in 2010, a garden city built on a series of landmark canals, up 26% from 2009 and the tourism trade generated 102 billion yuan ($15 billion), up 21% on the year.

Within 62-mile radius of Suzhou live 22 million people between the target demographic ages 15-45 years, according to emerging market intelligence provider, Getchee Enterprise Solutions, Huayi said in a statement. That number goes up to 36 million in the target age group with 120 miles and to 40 million within 155 miles.

Shenzhen-listed Huayi will own 35% of the new theme park venture, whose actual equity investment value will “be determined after official establishment of the company,” a Huayi official told The Hollywood Reporter in an email.

Huayi, which is best known for the films of blockbuster director best known for the films of director Feng Xiaogang, such as Aftershock (2010), will license the name "Huayi Brothers" to the joint venture for the park, which is expected to be 163 hectare (0.25 square mile) in size.