Huayi Brothers Plans East Asia's Largest Indoor Studio Complex for Shanghai

The studio plan will follow the Universal Studios model, incorporating studio tours and rides in a later phase of its development.

BEIJING -- Huayi Brothers Media is planning to 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, an official at China’s leading independent TV and film production company said on Friday.

Beijing-based Huayi is best known for its work producing the films of director Feng Xiaogang, whose hit 2010 earthquake drama Aftershock was the first IMAX film made in a language other than English.

Led by Huayi Bros Pictures president Dennis Wang Zhonglei and backed by majority shareholders in the government of Shanghai’s Jiading Industrial Zone, construction on the first phase of the Huayi Brothers Culture City will begin later this year.

First phase sound studios and later plans for studio tours and entertainment rides are a part of the first foray by Shenzhen-listed Huayi into the cultural tourism industry.

“We envision this as a cross between Universal Studios and Warner Brothers Movie World for China’s local movie industry,” the official at Huayi told The Hollywood Reporter on condition of anonymity.

The completed Huayi facility is set to occupy roughly 667,000 square meters (7.1 million square feet). It will be within three hours' driving distance of China’s largest film studio to date, Hengdian World Studios, in nearby Zhejiang province. 

Hengdian’s facilities are geared toward shooting the elaborate scale model exteriors often used in the period costume dramas long popular in China.

“We feel the market is big enough to accommodate at least two studio facilities in the Shanghai area,” the Huayi official said.

Film crews are busier than ever across China striving to meet demand from the country’s booming middle class, whose newfound filmgooing habit boosted 2010 box office grosses 64% to hit $1.47 billion.

The first phase of the Huayi project, located about 12.5 miles away from downtown Shanghai in an area served by a luxury Marriott International hotel, will include sound stages and temporary housing for film crews.

“Eventually we’ll have to launch a subsidiary to handle all this new work,” the Huayi official said.