Fleshing out plans for its Shanghai "DreamCenter" entertainment and cultural district, DreamWorks Animation and its Chinese partners said Thursday the massive riverside complex will open in 2017 and include a 500-seat Imax cinema, multiple performance venues and Broadway-style theaters.
First announced in 2012, the complex is being built on the site of a former cement plant and will repurpose some of the industrial structures -- including silos, an old boathouse and warehouses -- into offices, art exhibit spaces, stores, restaurants and offices.
The T-shaped parcel spans an area of some 1.6 million square feet -- about four times the size of Universal Citywalk.
The district is a collaboration between Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation, Shanghai Media Group’s CMC and Hong Kong-based developer Lan Kwai Fong Group, and is being partly funded by CDB Capital.
At the heart of the complex is a ''Dream Avenue'' district composed of live performance theaters, music halls and black box theaters. The area will also include the headquarters of Oriental DreamWorks, which now has 200 employees in Shanghai.
The company plans to hire an additional 150 staff by the end of 2014 as it ramps up a variety of film and TV projects, most notably "Kung Fu Panda 3," set for release in 2016.
Though DreamCenter may not be completed until the following year, it is conceivable the Imax theater could be ready in time to host the premiere of the film. The company previously said DreamCenter would include a themed "Kung Fu Panda" area.
DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said the district aims to rival Broadway in New York or London's West End, becoming an attraction not only for locals but also international tourists.
"As the home base for Oriental DreamWorks Studio for the creation of top-quality family entertainment, DreamCenter is the place where great entertainment is not only displayed, but also where it is created," he said.
When plans were first announced in 2012, the companies said DreamCenter was targeted to open in 2016 and cost 20 billion renminbi or $3.1 billion. The opening has now been pushed to 2017 and the budget is now said to be 15 billion renminbi, or about $2.4 billion.
At a media event Thursday unveiling designs for the district, Katzenberg told the Wall Street Journal that "securing the necessary approvals and getting financing took a longer time than expected."
DreamCenter is part of a large, formerly industrial area on the west side of the Huangpu River being rebranded as the West Bund Media Port. Besides Oriental DreamWorks, other entertainment companies including Hunan TV and TVB are making plans to locate offices there. It will be served by a subway stop and is located about 30 minutes by car from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport.
More than 330 million people -- the equivalent of the entire U.S. population -- lives within a three-hour drive or train ride of Shanghai. And DreamCenter is not the only Hollywood-linked attraction eager to lure these consumers.
Construction is in full swing on Walt Disney Co.'s Shanghai Disney resort on the east side of the Huangpu River. That 963-acre, $4.4 billion amusement park, hotel and retail-dining entertainment complex is expected to open in late 2015.