Wanda Unveils Plans for $8 Billion 'Movie Metropolis,' Reveals Details About Film Incentives

Wang Jianlin - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Wang Jianlin - Getty - H 2016

Warner Bros.' 'Godzilla 2' will shoot at the Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility, along with 'Pacific Rim 2.'

Wanda has big plans for its Qingdao Movie Metropolis.

During Wanda's U.S.-Sino Business Evening at the Los Angeles County Museum of the Arts, where Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin was on hand, the company revealed more details about the 408-acre mixed-use space.

The studio facilities will include 30 soundstages, including an advanced temperature-controlled underwater stage and the world's largest indoor stage. The studio is scheduled to officially open in August 2018.

Movies and TV project that film at Wanda's Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility will receive a new 40 percent rebate. The rebate will be co-funded by the Qingdao regional governments and Wanda from a development fund worth $750 million that will be given out over a five-year period, said Wanda Cultural Industry Group's Jack Gao.

The rebates will be offered to "qualifying productions" to assist with the cost of everything from stage rental and set construction to accommodations and transportation.

Legendary/Universal's Pacific Rim 2, the sequel to Guillermo Del Toro's monster movie Pacific Rim, will be the first U.S. production to shoot at the Qingdao studio. Announced Monday, Legendary/Warner Bros.' Godzilla 2, the follow-up to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla, also will shoot at the studio. 

Lionsgate and ArcLigtht Films have signed on to shoot at the studio, along with China Media Capital-backed Infinity Pictures, Arad Productions, Kylin Pictures, Base Media, Beijing Dirty Monkey Culture Industry Development and Juben Pictures.

The studio will be only one part of Wanda's planned Movie Metropolis.

A convention center, shopping mall, six resort hotel, four indoor theme parks, a marina, international schools, an international hospital and Asia’s largest cinema with 5,300 seats also will be a part of the proposed metropolis. The idea is that the mixed-use development will make Qingdao a home away from home for filmmakers, their crews and their families.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs were on hand to offer their support for Wanda and its hefty film industry ambitions. Garcetti said that beginning in the spring, there will be a direct flight from Los Angeles to Qingdao. Isaacs announced that Wanda would help to finance the long-delayed Academy Museum, scheduled to open in 2018.

Wang said he hoped for the improvement of "quality of the Hollywood movies," saying that Hollywood fare is too reliant on visual effects. He then urged Hollywood filmmakers to get back to "telling stories."

A sizzle reel for the Movie Metropolis was screened during the event, narrated by The Great Wall star Matt Damon. VFX heavy clips of The Great Wall, which shot at Qingdao, played on the screens during the cocktail reception that followed the presentation.   

Stories, Wang says, need to be told while being aware of possible Chinese audiences. He added: "You cannot try to make money in the Chinese market and disregard the Chinese tastes."

"This is an opportunity for Hollywood, not competition for Hollywood,” reassured Wang at the end of his address.