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Vast New Wanda Studios in China Targets Big Hollywood, Domestic Productions

Wanda Studios — the vast production site under construction in Qingdao, China — aims to host at least five to six Hollywood projects in its first year of full operation in 2018, the studios’ new president and CEO Alvin Fu said Sunday. The new facility also hopes to attract at least four to five domestic productions a year with a budget of more than RMB 100 million ($14.7 million) each.

Fifteen of the studios’ 30 soundstages are up and running, including two occupying about 1.5 acres each and one — which Wanda says is the world’s largest — covering 2.5 acres. Two big-screen spectaculars have already been shot there: “The Great Wall” and “Pacific Rim 2,” which just wrapped. Three more productions are underway at the site, which occupies more than 400 acres of land in the newly developed Huangdao district of Qingdao.

On Sunday, Fu hosted a tour of the facility for studio executives and producers including Chris Kuhl, production resources manager from Disney; Luke Homeres, executive director of production finance at MGM; Carrie Wong, head of local production film and TV greater China at Sony Pictures; Adam McCarthy, Universal’s vice president of physical production; and Gillian Zhao, Warner Bros.’ executive vice-president and managing director for China.

Fu said the studios were positioned to be China’s answer to Hollywood. Besides its sprawling size, the facility will also feature China’s largest exterior water tank, a temperature-controlled underwater stage, and a manmade island reclaimed from the Yellow Sea. Britain’s Pinewood Studios served as a design consultant on the Wanda project.

“Pacific Rim 2” and the next “Godzilla” film are among the Hollywood projects to be shot at Wanda Studios. Fu said the company was in talks with other potential Hollywood partners on bringing them to Qingdao.

“China’s film industry is booming, and it won’t take long to become the world’s No. 1, surpassing North America. There is a huge demand for state-of-the-art studios facilities in the country, but at the moment there aren’t enough of such studios,” said Fu, who joined Wanda Studios just three weeks ago from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“The logistics for location shooting has become very complicated,” he said. “But we can offer an environment that is completely under control.”

The studios form part of Wanda Group’s $8.2-billion investment in commercial property investment in coastal Qingdao. Group Chairman Wang Jianlin announced the studios while in Hollywood last October.

Two more yet-to-be-identified domestic films are currently in production in Qingdao. A third is “The Wandering Earth,” a screen adaptation of Liu Cixin’s novel of the same name, with a reported $50-million budget. The movie, directed by Guo Fan, is being billed as China’s first sci-fi blockbuster and is backed by China Film Group, Beijing Culture, and Wanda Pictures.

Gong Geer, a producer at director Guo’s G!Film Studio, praised the international standard of Wanda Studios’ facilities. He said his crew has been on the Qingdao site for three months and was expecting to spend three more months there.

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