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China offers film subsidies at new Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis

China offers film subsidies at new Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis
Wang Jianlin, chairman of Wanda Group. (EPA)

Taking a further step to grow its own film business, China is offering film subsidies to help lure productions to a new "movie metropolis" in the city of Qingdao.

The Qingdao municipal government in eastern China in partnership with Dalian Wanda Group has launched a fund that would provide up to 1 billion yuan ($162 million) annually to support film and TV productions, according to a statement.

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Billed as first of its kind in China, the subsidies would mainly be available to projects that film at Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, a sprawling production facility recently launched by Wanda Group that aims to be the "Hollywood of China." Wanda announced the $8.2-billion project last year with plans for 20 film and TV sound stages.

Wanda Group, which announced the new fund in a statement, said it would invest in the fund, which is aimed at capitalizing on China's rapidly growing movie business. China is now the second largest film market in the world.

Wanda is China's largest commercial property developer and has been expanding its presence in Hollywood. Wanda owns AMC Theatres, America's second largest theater chain, and recently bought the the site of the former Robinsons-May department store in Beverly Hills, where it will invest $1.2 billion to build a mixed-use development.

While details of how the fund in Qingdao will operate are still being worked out, companies could receive subsidies of up to 10% of their annual revenue, according to the statement.

The Qingdao government also rolled out a number of other policies to encourage banks and other financial institutions to launch loan products tailored to the needs of film and TV makers and facilitate IPO financing for film and TV program producers.

The subsidies were announced at a film and TV production summit today hosted by the Qingdao government and Wanda Group that drew nearly 100 producers worldwide.

In a speech at the summit, Li Ming, bureau chief of Culture, Radio, Television, Press and Publication of Qingdao, said the subsidies will raise Qingdao's profile as the "city of films."

David Glasser, chief operating officer the Weinstein Co., said the favorable policies and subsidies make Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis an attractive location.

"We are determined to become one of the earliest companies to bring films here for production," Glasser said.

Twitter: @rverrier

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