WSJ: “DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. on Tuesday signed plans with Chinese partners to build a $350 million movie studio in Shanghai to capitalize on the success of its Kung Fu Panda film franchise as the studio looks to build up its presence in a fast-growing Chinese movie market.
The studio will be 45% owned by the California animation company, with the remainder held by media-related companies controlled by the Shanghai government. The partners also plan an entertainment zone that could bring the total investment to 20 billion yuan (US$3.14 billion) to be largely funded in China.
The foundation of the project is the animation studio, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said in an interview. “The talent must exist here in China if only they had the knowledge, training and opportunity,” he said.
The partners said the film “Kung Fu Panda 3″ will be co-produced in Shanghai for a 2015 or 2016 release. The Shanghai studio plans its first film by 2017 and would build toward one to three major films a year, with an aim to build an animation base in China that can produce films for a world-wide market.
The joint venture said on Tuesday that it plans to build a tourism and entertainment complex that it calls the Dream Center with an opening date of 2016 in Shanghai’s Xuhui district. The facility near an abandoned airport will include tourist attractions, restaurants and commercial space, the joint venture said. Mr. Katzenberg said his company will help design that aspect of the business but be a small minority partner in the park, which represents the largest share of the investment plans.
The moves—which were announced in part earlier this year—come as rival Walt Disney Co. also looks to build up its presence in Shanghai. The U.S. entertainment company last year began construction of its own $4.4 billion theme park with Shanghai-government partners that will also include hotels, restaurants and other amenities.
Western entertainment companies are looking for ways to tap the fast-growing Chinese entertainment market. China’s box-office revenue surged 42% in the first half of the year to $1.28 billion as increasingly affluent consumers head to the movies. But the domestic industry is still underdeveloped, with foreign productions dominating the business. Mr. Katzenberg said American movies have represented 70% of the Chinese box office so far this year.”