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Mogul Wang Jianlin plans to build world's biggest film studio in China

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin announces plans to build a development in China with 20 studios — including what he touted would be the world's largest — and a permanent underwater stage.

September 22, 2013|By Barbara Demick

BEIJING — China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, announced plans Sunday to build what he is touting would be the world's largest movie studio.

An $8.2-billion project to be named the Oriental Movie Metropolis, the development is to consist of 20 studios and a permanent underwater stage. It is to be located an hour outside Qingdao, a coastal city with more than 8.7 million people.

Wang, 58, the son of a Red Army veteran, is the billionaire owner of Dalian Wanda Group Corp., which last year acquired movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Inc. He was ranked this month as China's richest man by the Hurun Report, which publishes its findings in Forbes magazine.

Showcasing the power of Chinese money in Hollywood, Wang paid several celebrities to travel to the event, including John Travolta, Nicole Kidman and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Wanda said the moviemaking complex will be housed in a 1,300-acre theme park that includes a wax museum, yacht club, exhibition center and hotels. One of the film studios — what purportedly would be the world's largest — is supposed to be more than 100,000 square feet.

China's state news service, Xinhua, quoted Wang saying at Sunday's event that China's box-office revenues will surpass those of the United States by 2018 and double by 2023.

"With the huge potential that comes with a population of 1.3 billion, the global film industry will recognize that the sooner you partner with China, the sooner you make more money," the agency paraphrased him as saying.

Wang's fortune has been estimated at $22 billion. This month, Wanda announced it had donated $20 million to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a new film museum.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last year, Wang said he planned to invest $10 billion in the United States over the next decade, which might include real estate, hotels, department stores and another movie chain. He also said he was seeking partnerships with Hollywood studios.

"We would like to invest in film production, and we'd like to partner with directors, actors and filmmakers from Hollywood," he said. "They need to know the Chinese market is growing very fast, and they should come as early as possible.''

barabara.demick@latimes.com

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