Los Angeles has film studios and the best-known movie industry award ceremonies. Orlando has amusement parks and resort hotels. Now, one of China’s richest men wants to copy them with a movie-themed real estate development in his country’s most fashionable beach city.
Wang Jianlin, who is chairman of Dalian Wanda Group and reputed to be China’s wealthiest investor, announced plans on Sunday for the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis. Costing from $4.9 billion to $8.2 billion, it would encompass film studios, resort hotels, an indoor amusement park, movie theaters with up to 3,000 seats and even a hospital.
“It is estimated that China’s film box office revenue will surpass North America’s by 2018 and will double it by 2023 — that is why I believe the future of the world’s film industry is in China,” Mr. Wang said, according to a text of his remarks.
Chinese officials were quick to extol the Qingdao project. “Whether in terms of investment, scale or grade, Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis is an unprecedented project that will create history as it represents the highest level and the future of the development” of China’s film industry, said Li Qiankuan, the chairman of the government-controlled China Film Association.
Mr. Wang also announced plans to host an annual film festival in Qingdao every September, starting in 2016. The festival would include an elaborate awards ceremony.
But the moviemaking aspects of Sunday’s plans appeared to be dwarfed by the real estate project surrounding it. Mr. Wang, who made an estimated $14 billion fortune as a real estate developer, said that he planned to build eight resort hotels, an enormous shopping mall, a 300-berth yacht club, numerous apartment towers, a seaside restaurant row and even a celebrity wax museum — in addition to 20 movie sound sets and the amusement park.
Famed for its gentle coastal climate and located between Beijing and Shanghai, Qingdao has some of the costliest real estate in China.
Mr. Wang said that the project would cover 929 acres in a new development on the city’s outskirts. The plan calls for constructing 58 million square feet of buildings on the site.
Particularly striking about the plans for the Qingdao complex was the inclusion of the yacht club. The Chinese military has banned almost all private use of yachts along the coastline, preserving a high level of maritime control and supervision that has its roots in decades of periodic confrontations with Taiwan.
China’s wealthy entrepreneurs, virtually all of whom have strong political connections, have been pressing for more freedom to acquire and use yachts, many of which now sit at their berths for parties almost all year or are used for short trips on lakes, rivers and restricted areas of coastline. But Beijing officials have been nervous about allowing many yacht clubs to open, fearing that they could stir a populist outcry over the country’s income gap between rich and poor, which government statistics show to be one of the widest in the world.
Image: New York Times