Wanda lures Hollywood to China with 40 percent rebate offer

Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin is expected to unveil the incentive at an event that he is hosting in Los Angeles on Monday evening

Chinese entertainment giant Wanda is offering producers a rebate of 40 percent to promote its upcoming $8 billion movie studio in eastern China in an ambitious bid to establish the complex as a major production base in Asia.

Andrew Kam, former managing director of Disneyland Hong Kong, will join Wanda as vice-president of Wanda Culture Industry Group and president of Wanda Themed Entertainment Co Ltd, according to Chinese news portal thepaper.

The incentive will be paid from a five-year, $750 million fund created by Wanda and the local government in Qingdao, officials told a group of Hollywood executives in producers seated in a theater at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Wang Jianlin (center), chairman of Wanda Group, mingles with the performers at the opening ceremony of the 160-hectare Hefei Wanda City in Anhui province, on Sep 24, 2016.

Wanda's USA theater chain, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., has agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas Inc., which would make it the biggest domestic cinema operator, and is also buying Odeon & UCI Cinemas in the United Kingdom.

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Legendary will shoot sequels to "Pacific Rim" and "Godzilla" at the facility, Wanda said, adding that Lions Gate Entertainment Corp and others have also agreed to shoot there. He predicted the Chinese box office would match the biggest market - the United States and Canada - by 2018, and grow by about 15 percent annually for the next 10 years.

This trend would mean that directors need to have "Chinese elements" to their movies, Wang explained. "If you want to make money in this market, you will have to understand and please Chinese audiences".

The announcement Monday is the latest by Wanda to promote its growing entertainment brand globally, even as USA lawmakers raise concerns about the company's investment in Hollywood. The 40% rebate will apply to certain costs including stage and equipment rental, set construction and accommodations. It has said it will invest in multiple Sony Pictures productions, and strive to highlight China in those films.

Dalian Wanda Group, controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, has hired the former head of Hong Kong Disneyland to run its amusement parks, according to The Wall Street Journal.