While China's film industry is at the beginning of a golden age, Dalian Wanda Group, controlled by Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin, has acted as its most audacious investor.
At a star-studded event, the Dalian-based company announced yesterday that it would invest as much as 50 billion yuan (HK$63.03 billion) to build the world's largest film and television industry project in the coastal city of Qingdao, in northeastern Shandong province.
The 3.8 million square metre site, named Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, will feature a spacious film production area, which includes the world's largest studio - at 10,000 square metres - and the world's only fixed underwater studio.
In addition, there will also be a film museum, a celebrity wax museum and a film exhibition centre that houses 4,000-seat theatres.
Other cultural and tourist facilities, such as eight resort hotels, a 300-berth yacht club, shops, a bar street and a hospital , will also be part of the large project.
"We originally planned to construct only a film production base, but how to fund the project had remained a problem for us. After visiting dozens of projects around the world, we decided to incorporate all these functions into one site. We believe the concept of film industry will boost the tourism and consumption at the place, making it a profitable project," said Wang, founder and chairman of Dalian Wanda Group.
The first phase of the project is expected to open in June 2016 and the entire project will be completed in 2017.
Meanwhile, Wanda has reached a preliminary agreement with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation that holds the annual Oscars. The Academy will provide support to the Chinese company in hosting the Qingdao International Film Festival every September from 2016.
Four of the world's major entertainment talent agencies, including CAA, WME, UTA and ICM, also committed to invite 30 international superstars and directors to walk the red carpet for the annual event.
The mainland holds two international film festivals in Beijing and Shanghai annually, but their influence is very limited compared to Oscars in the US or the Cannes International Film Festival in France.
"China is about to become the world's largest film market. However, its influence in the global film industry is still weak. We desperately need a brand to boost the image and position of China's film industry," Wang added.
After acquiring United States cinema chain AMC for US$2.6 billion last June, Wanda would continue looking for acquisition targets in US film industry, he said.