BEVERLY HILLS, California. — China’s richest man, Mr Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Co., is creating a rival to the American dream factory, from scratch. The latest acquisition — the company is buying Dick Clark Productions for about $1 billion — and dangle an enormous carrot in front of Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Universal and Walt Disney.
Wanda and the Qingdao municipal government have established a major incentive program to lure movie and TV production to the 408-acre Qingdao Movie Metropolis.
Billed as an effort to “bridge the entertainment capitals of the world,” the program will provide a 40 percent rebate on certain production spending in Qingdao, which is about 450 miles north of Shanghai and is the site of Wanda Studios, still under construction.
Scheduled to fully open in 2018, Wanda Studios will feature 30 advanced soundstages, including the world’s largest at over 107,000 square feet; an underwater stage; and a 221-acre back lot.
The rebate on each film or television production will be limited to $18 million. The total amount available to disperse will be $150 million annually. There will be three classifications of rebate productions, according to Wanda, and only one of those would require Chinese cultural elements, Chinese actors and Chinese investors — films classified by the Chinese government as co-productions that are not subject to import limits. (Only 34 non-Chinese films are allowed to play in the country annually and those must suit Chinese censors.)
Applications will be evaluated by a 10-person committee of government officials and Wanda executives, a Wanda spokeswoman said.
Mr. Wang, a spry former military officer who is said to be China’s richest man, said he hoped that an additional $3 billion in Qingdao amenities — “international hospitals, international schools, yacht clubs, hotels, shopping” — would make American stars and marquee directors more willing to spend months at a time working there. “Like going on a vacation” is how he described it.
He added that the incentives were not just about busying Wanda Studios and increasing the supply of movies to Wanda’s theaters, both in China, where it controls 3,056 screens, and elsewhere.
Mr. Wang said that Wanda intended to control 20 percent of the world’s movie theater seats by 2020. It currently has about 13 percent, including those run in Europe by the Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group, which Wanda bought for $650 million.
By 2020, Wanda aims to have annual revenue of $100 billion and net profits of $10 billion. With its real estate growth slowing, Wanda is also moving into sports. It recently paid $1.2 billion for Infront Sports and Media, a sports marketing company, and tourist destinations, including a $3.5 billion entertainment, shopping and hotel complex outside Paris.
As Wanda pushes deeper into filmed entertainment, the company plans to build a $1.2 billion headquarters in Beverly Hills “to aid in China’s entry into Hollywood’s film industry and generally promote Chinese culture abroad,” Wanda said in a news release.
In the Market for Entertainment
The Dalian Wanda Group has been on an entertainment-related spending spree since 2012. Here are some of its biggest purchases and projects:
• AMC TheatersBought the theater chain, which has 5,334 movie screens in the United States, for $2.6 billion.
• Legendary EntertainmentPaid $3.5 billion for the production company, which has credits like “Godzilla,” “300” and the coming “Kong: Skull Island.”
• Hoyts CinemasBought the 400-screen Australian theater chain for $344 million.
• Odeon and the UCI Cinemas GroupPaid $650 million for the 2,238-screen European theater chain.
• Carmike Cinemas Paid $1.1 billion for the theater chain, which has 2,954 screens in the United States
• Infront Sports and MediaPaid $1.2 billion for the European marketing company.
• American HeadquartersIs spending $1.2 billion on its new United States headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., which includes a hotel and shopping complex.
• MtimePaid $350 million for the movie ticketing, merchandise and marketing company.
• EuropaCityIs investing $3.3 billion in the theme park, hotel and shopping complex near Paris.