Former Academy President Sid Ganis is now a consultant for Wuxi Studios. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)
In his newest Hollywood role, Sid Ganis has gone from promoting the Oscars to pitching a sprawling film studio complex in China.
In an interview, the former president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences predicted that Wuxi Studio outside of Shanghai will become a magnet for Hollywood productions within a few years.
"It took 100 years for our industry to evolve and our studios to be working at full capacity,'' said Ganis, a consultant and honorary chairman for Wuxi. "I expect within three years, the Wuxi facility will be bursting at the seams."
Ganis, a producer whose film company is based at Sony Pictures, returned to Los Angeles last week after attending a ground-breaking ceremony for the first phase of the Wuxi Studio project. The former steel factory has been converted into six sound stages and encompasses production offices, visual effects facilities and a retail and nightclub area similar to Universal Citywalk. Another five sound stages, some up to 63,560 square feet, are scheduled to open by next summer.
The Chinese government is investing some $1.57 billion in Wuxi Studio and has hired Raleigh Studios to manage the project, which will cater to Chinese filmmakers as well as foreign co-productions that are not subject to China's film quotas. The studio will span 2.3 square miles, according to plans.
Ganis, who helped broker the deal with Raleigh, said he has been in discussions with more than half a dozen companies in Hollywood interested in leasing space at the facility. He said the studio could house as many as 10 American films in the next year, declining to identify any of them.
Some high-profile movies already set to shoot in China include Marvel Studios' "Iron Man 3" and Legendary Pictures' "The Great Wall."
Filmmakers have often been frustrated by bureaucracy and the poor quality of facilities and crews in China. But Ganis said China is rapidly becoming more film-friendly, offering producers such incentives as reduced rates on equipment and hotels. And Wuxi Studio, he said, will have a full-range of production and post-production services.
"It's a filmmaking center of the highest caliber,'' Ganis said.
AMC in talks to sell to China's Wanda Group
DreamWorks Animation unveils China studio plans
U.S. and China reach deal to allow more movies into China