(Adds Wang, producer comments)
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES Oct 17 China's richest man, on a
buying spree in Hollywood, urged U.S. filmmakers to work more
closely with the Asian country as he unveiled a subsidy meant to
lure productions to his multi-billion dollar studio in the
eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.
Wang Jianlin, the billionaire chairman of Dalian Wanda
Group, announced on Monday a 40 percent rebate of certain costs
of filming at the studio. The incentive will be paid from a
five-year, $750-million fund financed by Wanda and the local
government, the company announced at a red-carpet event that
Wang hosted in Los Angeles.
"This is an opportunity for Hollywood, not a competition for
Hollywood," Wang said from a podium on stage at the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art, speaking through a translator.
Wang has been the biggest Chinese dealmaker in the U.S. film
business, buying Legendary Entertainment - one of the producers
of "Jurassic World" and "The Dark Knight" - and U.S. cinema
chain AMC Entertainment Holdings.
He is now trying to lure Hollywood filmmakers to the new
production studio and entertainment district in Qingdao. In a
video narrated by American movie star Matt Damon, the complex is
described as offering clear air, a temperate climate and a
coastal location "that strongly recalls Southern California".
Legendary will shoot sequels to "Pacific Rim" and "Godzilla"
at the Qingdao facility, Wanda said. Lions Gate Entertainment
Corp and others have also agreed to shoot there, the
Wang emphasized the rapid increase of moviegoing in China.
He predicted the Chinese box office would match the biggest
market - the United States and Canada - by 2018, and grow by
about 15 percent annually for the next 10 years.
To succeed in that market, filmmakers need to feature
"Chinese elements" in their movies, Wang said.
"You cannot try to just make money in the Chinese market and
disregard Chinese tastes," he said.
Some U.S. lawmakers have raised concern about the growing
investment by Chinese companies in Hollywood and the impact it
might have on media in the United States. Wang said he was
speaking from a "business perspective" in encouraging films that
appeal to Chinese audiences, not a political one.
Wang also criticized the current emphasis by U.S. studios on
sequels and remakes of films that previously played well in
China. "This will probably not work forever," he said. "Now the
Chinese audiences are smarter."
The Qingdao studio will compete with several U.S. states and
countries that offer tax incentives to attract productions. The
40 percent rebate will apply to certain costs including stage
and equipment rental, set construction and accommodations.
"It's good because China doesn't have any incentives," said
Rob Cain, a consultant and partner at Pacific Bridge Pictures.
Wanda needs to entice filmmakers to try out the facility and
"come back and say good things about the experience", he said.
Dalian Wanda is a real estate and media conglomerate. Two of
its key listed units are Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties and
Wanda Cinema Line Corp.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and