Group spends $2.4 billion on theme park, studio

Malaysia’s Lion Group will spend $2.4 billion building a film studio and theme park in China.

Lion, which has interests in steel and controls China’s Parkson Retail chain, aims to build Dream City in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province in the south of the country, according to Bloomberg reports. Project will be completed in five years, according to a Lion publicist.

Dream City will include a studio, amusement parks, hotels, golf courses and a film school that Beijing U. and the Beijing Film Academy will run together, according to a statement.

Project was initiated by Hong Kong-based helmer Stanley Tong, who chairs China Intl. Media Group.

“I’ve researched the cultural industry in China, and I believe we are lacking a proper logistics platform (for film production),” Tong said.

“It will be very meaningful if we can create a Chinese Hollywood,’’ said Lion chairman-CEO William Cheng at a Hong Kong function to announce the project. “Some people say I’m silly, but I’m not doing this for money; it’s about ideals.”

Precedents are mixed. Hong Kong Disneyland has struggled since its September 2005 launch. Attendance was below forecasts in the park’s first year and dropped in the second year. However, Hong Kong’s homegrown attraction Ocean Park has seen admissions rise.

Last month Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said an application had been made to the Chinese central government’s planning agency in Beijing to go ahead with Asia’s third Disneyland. But Disney said no deal existed with Shanghai (Daily Variety, March 10).

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