Qingdao rises as new showbiz production base

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As China's sci-fi hit "The Wandering Earth" took box office by storm, its production base Oriental Movie Metropolis has received another round of applause after its big launch.

China.org.cnUpdated: February 19, 2019

As China's sci-fi hit "The Wandering Earth" took box office by storm, its production base Oriental Movie Metropolis has received another round of applause after its big launch. Qingdao, the city where the production base is located, is in turn becoming an increasingly popular movie production hub.

While the film's box office intake has exceeded 3.4 billion yuan (US$502 million) and is likely to become another epic hit following "Wolf Warrior 2," many audiences are eager to visit the place where it was produced.

Qingdao-based Yu Shasha was one of them. The 27-year-old said she watched the film during the Chinese New Year holidays, a peak movie-going season, and was thrilled to find out the production base was only within 2-hour driving distance from her home. 

"I would definitely go and visit once I have free time," she said. "I am really curious about how those storm scenes were made."

The scenes Yu mentioned was shot in Sound Stage 20, which was also the shooting place of the long take in the underground city appeared in the beginning of the film, according to a representative from Oriental Movie Metropolis.

"We also built a space capsule in an open shooting space of Sound Stage 2 in Oriental Movie Metropolis. There were no such attempt before," said Wang Hong, producer of "The Wandering Earth." Although it took nearly two months to finish, the space capsule's debut in the film proved worthy.

Production team of "The Wandering Earth" at the space capsule built inside a sound stage in Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis. [Photo provided to China.org.cn]

"The Wandering Earth" was only one of the films with big productions at the base. With "Fengshen Trilogy" and many others already in the pipeline, Oriental Movie Metropolis is expected to become a leading production hub.

The expectations seem to go parallel with that of Wang Jianlin, head of Dalian Wanda Group which funded the development of the enormous production base in Qingdao. Wang spoke at the base's official opening that he will turn the city of Qingdao into a global film production hub with over 50 billion yuan of investment. Although current branding and operations of Oriental Movie Metropolis are managed by Sunac following its acquisition of several branches of Wanda Group, the influence of the film production site remains unchallenged.

Up to date, Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis has about 40 world's top-class sound stages, including the world's largest sound stage at around 10,000 square meters, and the world's only underwater sound stage.

With its production facilities and technologies, the 400-acre Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis has attracted over 200 production companies from within China and abroad.

In addition to a sprawling studio complex, the site now also includes a theme park, a shopping mall, a film museum, hotels, and clubs. Construction of such a package was considered a move to not only attract producers, but also visitors with its immersive entertaining experience.

Located in an industry incubating park in west Qingdao, Oriental Movie Metropolis also received financial support and services from the local government.

Qingdao government has vowed to offer foreign film and TV studios big subsidies and tax breaks to film at the site. Together with Oriental Movie Metropolis, it offered "The Great Wall," a 2016 China-U.S. co-production film with subsidies of roughly 16 million yuan. Film productions shooting at Oriental Movie Metropolis could receive subsidies to cover as much as 40 percent of their production costs in Qingdao.

Going ahead, the city said it would ramp up its efforts in bolstering art and culture related industries with a highlight in film and TV productions.