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China plans $2 billion film studio as part of culture drive

Associated Press Associated Press 28/11/2016

BEIJING — China's government has announced plans to build a $2 billion film studio as part of a national push to expand its cultural influence.

The studio in the southwest municipality of Chongqing will include a theme park and tourist attractions, state media reported late Sunday. Construction will begin early next year and is expected to cost 15 billion yuan ($2.18 billion).

Officials say they have operating agreements already with several foreign partners. The official Xinhua News Agency said the park would include tie-ins with gaming and online entertainment.

The park will be named after President Xi Jinping's signature "One Belt, One Road" program, a multibillion-dollar effort to deepen China's economic and cultural ties with its western and southern neighbors reaching as far as east Africa.

China is already the world's second-largest film market and home to the world's largest theater operator, Dalian Wanda, which has purchased American media companies AMC Theatres and Legendary Entertainment. Its signature film studio, Hengdian World Studios, spans almost 3,000 hectares (7,000 acres).

Facing growing domestic demand, Chinese officials and companies have sought to fend off Western film imports by producing more competitive films locally. A national quota permits just 34 Hollywood films to be shown each year in domestic theaters.

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