Cathy Yan in Early Talks to Direct Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn Movie

Cathy Yan is in early talks to direct Margot Robbie in the next Harley Quinn movie, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Yan is best known for writing and directing her feature debut “Dead Pigs,” which took home the World Cinema Dramatic Award For Ensemble Acting at Sundance earlier this year.

Yan would be the second female filmmaker to join the DC universe with this film, which is still known as the Untitled Girl Gang Movie at Warner Bros. She will also be the first Asian woman to direct a DC film.

Also Read: DC’s ‘Batgirl’ Movie Lands ‘Birds of Prey’ Screenwriter Christina Hodson

The girl gang movie is being written by screenwriter Christina Hodson, and it will be produced by Robbie, Kroll & Co Entertainment’s Sue Kroll, and Clubhouse Pictures’ Bryan Unkeless. Hodson is also writing “Batgirl” for DC.

Yan will not direct the “Gotham City Sirens” or “Harley vs Joker” films also in contention at Warner Bros.

Also Read: Here Are the 3 Harley Quinn Movies in Contention at Warner Bros.

Yan was previously a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing and was one of the youngest writers in the paper’s history to pen multiple front-page stories. She is represented by CAA.

Deadline first reported the news.

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Cathy Yan is in early talks to direct Margot Robbie in the next Harley Quinn movie, an individual with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Yan is best known for writing and directing her feature debut “Dead Pigs,” which took home the World Cinema Dramatic Award For Ensemble Acting at Sundance earlier this year.

Yan would be the second female filmmaker to join the DC universe with this film, which is still known as the Untitled Girl Gang Movie at Warner Bros. She will also be the first Asian woman to direct a DC film.

The girl gang movie is being written by screenwriter Christina Hodson, and it will be produced by Robbie, Kroll & Co Entertainment’s Sue Kroll, and Clubhouse Pictures’ Bryan Unkeless. Hodson is also writing “Batgirl” for DC.

Yan will not direct the “Gotham City Sirens” or “Harley vs Joker” films also in contention at Warner Bros.

Yan was previously a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing and was one of the youngest writers in the paper’s history to pen multiple front-page stories. She is represented by CAA.

Deadline first reported the news.

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'Gotham': Will Barbara Kean Become Harley Quinn?

Why Wang Jianlin and Wanda’s Problems are ‘More Political Than Economic’

The eighth annual TheGrill kicked off with a look at China’s tenuous relationship with Hollywood and its increasing emphasis on domestic blockbusters.

Stanley Rosen, Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California, has spent years studying China’s film industry. In conversation with TheWrap’s editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman, Rosen pointed to two factors that have made Chinese filmmakers focus on its domestic movie slate: politics and box office success.

“Couple changes recently, one being the restriction on money going out of China, which has compelled some investors like Wang Jianlin of Wanda to sell off assets and concentrate on [their] domestic portfolio,” said Rosen.

Also Read: Las Vegas Shooter’s Father Was Bank Robber on FBI’s Most Wanted List

Waxman noted Wanda Group’s genesis as a real estate heavyweight before setting its sights on Hollywood dominance — including a major partnership with Sony Pictures and its failed acquisition of Dick Clark Productions last year. Rosen said Wanda has shifted its attention back to China in large part due to Jianlin’s run-ins with the Chinese government.

“His problems are more political than economic, because he was trying to make Chinese policy for the Chinese government and creating a zero sum gain in his attacks on Disney,” said Rosen. He added the Chinese government is interested in a “win-win proposition” when it comes to its relationship with Hollywood.

The second factor, according to Rosen, was this summer’s hit “Wolf Warriors 2,” which “changed the game” for domestic offerings. The Chinese blockbuster made more than $900 million this summer, capitalizing on the country’s demand for action with a storyline built on a special ops soldier attempting to save trapped Chinese civilians in the midst of an African civil war. (Polling of Chinese filmgoers shows action movies only trail comedies in popularity — two genres owned by American filmmakers.)

Also Read: Social Media Star Dan Bilzerian Posts Footage From Las Vegas Shooting Scene: ‘Time to Go Grab a Gun’ (Video)

Rosen said this movie tapped into the spirit of Hollywood films like Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot,” which are “very successful commercial blockbusters” because of their “strong patriotic content.”

China’s ability to make these films doesn’t completely severe its ties with Hollywood, however. Anthony and Joe Russo — the brothers behind the “Captain America” film series — joining forces with Chinese studio Huayi Brothers last year was one example of the country aiming to beef up its domestic offerings by tapping into top Hollywood talent.

Moving forward, Rosen said Wanda Group’s uneasy relationship with the American government could curtail Chinese investment in the American film industry.

Jianlin has become the “poster boy for everything that is dangerous” about investing in Western movies, according to Rosen, because of his hostile remarks to Chairman Chris Dodd of the Motion Picture Association of America. This has made Jianlin “anathema” to Chinese bureaucrats overseeing the film industry.

Also Read: FBI Say Las Vegas Gunman Stephen Paddock Was Not Connected to ISIS

Now, if its films don’t promote “Chinese soft power,” the government doesn’t “see any benefit to it.” These movies will are popular in China, where patriotic themes play well, but will limit their appeal in the U.S. Still, Rosen told the audience the Chinese market is too big, and its film industry too closely linked to Hollywood, for there to be a severing of the connection.

“Things are always changing in China,” said Rosen. “China is always going to be important because of the market and the money that’s there.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

3 Reasons China’s Box Office Soared This Summer While the US Flopped

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Apple, China and a Look Behind the ‘Great Firewall’

The eighth annual TheGrill kicked off with a look at China’s tenuous relationship with Hollywood and its increasing emphasis on domestic blockbusters.

Stanley Rosen, Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern California, has spent years studying China’s film industry. In conversation with TheWrap’s editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman, Rosen pointed to two factors that have made Chinese filmmakers focus on its domestic movie slate: politics and box office success.

“Couple changes recently, one being the restriction on money going out of China, which has compelled some investors like Wang Jianlin of Wanda to sell off assets and concentrate on [their] domestic portfolio,” said Rosen.

Waxman noted Wanda Group’s genesis as a real estate heavyweight before setting its sights on Hollywood dominance — including a major partnership with Sony Pictures and its failed acquisition of Dick Clark Productions last year. Rosen said Wanda has shifted its attention back to China in large part due to Jianlin’s run-ins with the Chinese government.

“His problems are more political than economic, because he was trying to make Chinese policy for the Chinese government and creating a zero sum gain in his attacks on Disney,” said Rosen. He added the Chinese government is interested in a “win-win proposition” when it comes to its relationship with Hollywood.

The second factor, according to Rosen, was this summer’s hit “Wolf Warriors 2,” which “changed the game” for domestic offerings. The Chinese blockbuster made more than $900 million this summer, capitalizing on the country’s demand for action with a storyline built on a special ops soldier attempting to save trapped Chinese civilians in the midst of an African civil war. (Polling of Chinese filmgoers shows action movies only trail comedies in popularity — two genres owned by American filmmakers.)

Rosen said this movie tapped into the spirit of Hollywood films like Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot,” which are “very successful commercial blockbusters” because of their “strong patriotic content.”

China’s ability to make these films doesn’t completely severe its ties with Hollywood, however. Anthony and Joe Russo — the brothers behind the “Captain America” film series — joining forces with Chinese studio Huayi Brothers last year was one example of the country aiming to beef up its domestic offerings by tapping into top Hollywood talent.

Moving forward, Rosen said Wanda Group’s uneasy relationship with the American government could curtail Chinese investment in the American film industry.

Jianlin has become the “poster boy for everything that is dangerous” about investing in Western movies, according to Rosen, because of his hostile remarks to Chairman Chris Dodd of the Motion Picture Association of America. This has made Jianlin “anathema” to Chinese bureaucrats overseeing the film industry.

Now, if its films don’t promote “Chinese soft power,” the government doesn’t “see any benefit to it.” These movies will are popular in China, where patriotic themes play well, but will limit their appeal in the U.S. Still, Rosen told the audience the Chinese market is too big, and its film industry too closely linked to Hollywood, for there to be a severing of the connection.

“Things are always changing in China,” said Rosen. “China is always going to be important because of the market and the money that’s there.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

3 Reasons China's Box Office Soared This Summer While the US Flopped

China's Recon Group Drops $100 Million Takeover of Millennium Films

Apple, China and a Look Behind the 'Great Firewall'

Jean Reno, Rob Minkoff Join Beijing Festival Star Lineup

French actor Jean Reno and American director Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King”) will join Bille August on the jury for the main competition section of the Beijing International Film Festival. The panel also includes Hong Kong director Mabel Cheung, Chinese actress Jiang Wenli, Italian producer Paolo del Brocco and Romanian director Radu Jude. The festival,… Read more »

French actor Jean Reno and American director Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King”) will join Bille August on the jury for the main competition section of the Beijing International Film Festival. The panel also includes Hong Kong director Mabel Cheung, Chinese actress Jiang Wenli, Italian producer Paolo del Brocco and Romanian director Radu Jude. The festival,... Read more »

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell Rips Trump Administration: ‘People Just Flat-Out Lie’

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell fired back at Donald Trump days after the president called her “Hillary Clinton’s P.R. person.”

“It is totally sui generis. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mitchell said on “The Global Politico” podcast. “I have never seen anything like this where people just flat-out lie. You know, black is white and white is black, and they mislead you.”

Mitchell continued: “It’s really disconcerting to see the podium in the White House briefing room being used to mislead or misdirect or obfuscate.”

Also Read: Reporters Have Andrea Mitchell’s Back After Bill O’Reilly Calls Her ‘Unruly’

Mitchell also denied being a Clinton mouthpiece, saying: “I’ve covered seven presidents now… and have not endeared myself to any of them. That’s the job. We are adversarial.”

“The Andrea Mitchell Report” host has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.

She added on the podcast that she feels it’s wrong for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to avoid the media.

“There is just an attempt, and it’s successful, to shut down not just me but The New York Times, The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, CNN. I mean, we’re all just shut out,” Mitchell said. “You should not be flying into Beijing without a press corps. You should not be going to Moscow without the press corps. It’s wrong.”

On Wednesday, during an interview with New York Times reporters, Trump slammed the NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent, suggesting she acted as a “P.R. person” for the former Democratic presidential nominee, while discussing the controversy surrounding Susan Rice and her alleged requests to “unmask” Trump associates. Trump referenced Rice’s Tuesday interview with Mitchell, saying Rice did a “horrible” job.

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MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell fired back at Donald Trump days after the president called her “Hillary Clinton’s P.R. person.”

“It is totally sui generis. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mitchell said on “The Global Politico” podcast. “I have never seen anything like this where people just flat-out lie. You know, black is white and white is black, and they mislead you.”

Mitchell continued: “It’s really disconcerting to see the podium in the White House briefing room being used to mislead or misdirect or obfuscate.”

Mitchell also denied being a Clinton mouthpiece, saying: “I’ve covered seven presidents now… and have not endeared myself to any of them. That’s the job. We are adversarial.”

“The Andrea Mitchell Report” host has covered every president since Jimmy Carter.

She added on the podcast that she feels it’s wrong for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to avoid the media.

“There is just an attempt, and it’s successful, to shut down not just me but The New York Times, The Washington Post, Agence France-Presse, CNN. I mean, we’re all just shut out,” Mitchell said. “You should not be flying into Beijing without a press corps. You should not be going to Moscow without the press corps. It’s wrong.”

On Wednesday, during an interview with New York Times reporters, Trump slammed the NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent, suggesting she acted as a “P.R. person” for the former Democratic presidential nominee, while discussing the controversy surrounding Susan Rice and her alleged requests to “unmask” Trump associates. Trump referenced Rice’s Tuesday interview with Mitchell, saying Rice did a “horrible” job.

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'Morning Joe' Blasts Trump For Blaming Chemical Attack in Syria on Obama (Video)

Warner Bros. Inaugurates Beijing Office

Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros. chairman and CEO, was on hand Wednesday night in Beijing to officiate at the official opening of the studio’s new office in China. Others in attendance included Richard Fox, Warner’s executive VP, international, Gillian Zhao, executive VP and China MD, and invited Chinese industry guests. Though Warner first opened an office… Read more »

Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros. chairman and CEO, was on hand Wednesday night in Beijing to officiate at the official opening of the studio’s new office in China. Others in attendance included Richard Fox, Warner’s executive VP, international, Gillian Zhao, executive VP and China MD, and invited Chinese industry guests. Though Warner first opened an office... Read more »

Matt Damon, ‘Great Wall’ Crew Exposed to Banned Chemicals, Dangerous Conditions on Set (Report)

Forthcoming action epic “The Great Wall” ignored common safety practices and exposed star Matt Damon and crew to unregulated chemicals and pollution during production, a new report says.

The flagship film of Dalian Wanda’s $3.5 billion acquisition Legendary East was shot exclusively in China, where Beijing’s well-known pollution problem affected its marquee star, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“How do I look Matt Damon in the face when he’s the only one not wearing a mask?” an unnamed producer said of the protective gear most commonly used stateside for medical procedures.

Also Read: Wanda Chairman Warns Trump: 20k US Jobs at Risk

More serious, however, are the report’s accusations of chemical exposure and lax policies regarding set construction on the $150 million film.

“You had to be a policeman,” said the film’s key grip Guy Michelett about the vigilance required on set, adding that harnesses were routinely ignored when climbing scaffolding to rig lights.

An individual close to the production told TheWrap that Michelett was not employed when shooting on “The Great Wall” commenced. It’s unclear if he was only contracted for pre-production. Michelett did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

“I nearly passed out from the fumes that came out of a spray can,” another crew member told the WSJ of the use of a chemical sealant banned on other sets.

Also Read: China’s Wanda Group Buys Dick Clark Productions

Representatives for Dalian Wanda and Legendary East declined TheWrap’s request for comment. Damon’s reps did not immediately return a similar request.

The reported absence of these standard safety practices flies in the face of what Wanda has been trumpeting for more than a year — that it’s here to take Hollywood into the future.

The majority of “The Great Wall” was shot in China’s Qingdao region, where Wanda is building an $8.2 billion, 408-acre mega studio which will include a resort, theme park and a 5,300-seat cinema complex.

Wanda Studios Qingdao will bring standards on par with the U.S. Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration when its facilities open, an individual who works closely with WSQ said. It’s a top priority for Wanda Special Advisor and former AMPAS President Hawk Koch, the insider added.

Also Read: Dalian Wanda Lands on Hollywood Shores – A New Turning Point in the Movie Business

While the complex isn’t slated for completion until 2018, an unveiling event in Los Angeles last October revealed film productions would hit the WSQ stages as early as Q1 2017, beginning with the John Boyega action sequel “Pacific Rim: Uprising.”

The company is actively trying to lure productions to the new facility with a staggering 40 percent tax rebate and a state-of-the-art experience. They’re also pledging $750 million in production funding over the next five years.

The Zhang Yimou-directed film’s problems did not end when cameras stopped rolling. An early teaser for the project did not sit well with Asian activist groups who perceived Damon’s character as a “white savior.” He plays a European hit man who fights alongside the Chinese to protect the Great Wall from CGI monsters.

The film is considered the most expensive co-financed project in the short history of Hollywood and China’s physical production dealings. Backers include Universal Pictures, Le Vision and China Film Group.

“The Great Wall” opens in North America on Feb. 17.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Wanda Chairman Warns Trump: 20k US Jobs at Risk

Wanda Sykes Denies Getting Booed Off Stage Over Trump Jokes

Wanda Sykes Booed in Boston for Criticizing Donald Trump: ‘F— All Y’all’ (Video)

Forthcoming action epic “The Great Wall” ignored common safety practices and exposed star Matt Damon and crew to unregulated chemicals and pollution during production, a new report says.

The flagship film of Dalian Wanda’s $3.5 billion acquisition Legendary East was shot exclusively in China, where Beijing’s well-known pollution problem affected its marquee star, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“How do I look Matt Damon in the face when he’s the only one not wearing a mask?” an unnamed producer said of the protective gear most commonly used stateside for medical procedures.

More serious, however, are the report’s accusations of chemical exposure and lax policies regarding set construction on the $150 million film.

“You had to be a policeman,” said the film’s key grip Guy Michelett about the vigilance required on set, adding that harnesses were routinely ignored when climbing scaffolding to rig lights.

An individual close to the production told TheWrap that Michelett was not employed when shooting on “The Great Wall” commenced. It’s unclear if he was only contracted for pre-production. Michelett did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

“I nearly passed out from the fumes that came out of a spray can,” another crew member told the WSJ of the use of a chemical sealant banned on other sets.

Representatives for Dalian Wanda and Legendary East declined TheWrap’s request for comment. Damon’s reps did not immediately return a similar request.

The reported absence of these standard safety practices flies in the face of what Wanda has been trumpeting for more than a year — that it’s here to take Hollywood into the future.

The majority of “The Great Wall” was shot in China’s Qingdao region, where Wanda is building an $8.2 billion, 408-acre mega studio which will include a resort, theme park and a 5,300-seat cinema complex.

Wanda Studios Qingdao will bring standards on par with the U.S. Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration when its facilities open, an individual who works closely with WSQ said. It’s a top priority for Wanda Special Advisor and former AMPAS President Hawk Koch, the insider added.

While the complex isn’t slated for completion until 2018, an unveiling event in Los Angeles last October revealed film productions would hit the WSQ stages as early as Q1 2017, beginning with the John Boyega action sequel “Pacific Rim: Uprising.”

The company is actively trying to lure productions to the new facility with a staggering 40 percent tax rebate and a state-of-the-art experience. They’re also pledging $750 million in production funding over the next five years.

The Zhang Yimou-directed film’s problems did not end when cameras stopped rolling. An early teaser for the project did not sit well with Asian activist groups who perceived Damon’s character as a “white savior.” He plays a European hit man who fights alongside the Chinese to protect the Great Wall from CGI monsters.

The film is considered the most expensive co-financed project in the short history of Hollywood and China’s physical production dealings. Backers include Universal Pictures, Le Vision and China Film Group.

“The Great Wall” opens in North America on Feb. 17.

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Wanda Chairman Warns Trump: 20k US Jobs at Risk

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Wanda’s China Mega-Studio Seeks Hollywood Shoots With Huge Rebate, $750 Million in Incentives

Monday night, surrounded by a who’s who of Hollywood luminaries, the most talked-about man in entertainment announced the latest steps in his plan for world domination. And a big part of it is a rebate.

The crowd filing into the “U.S.-Sino Business Evening” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater — which included the likes of Screening Room founder Sean Parker, Lionsgate co-chair Patrick Wachsberger, MGM CEO Gary Barber, Marvel Studios chairman Avi Arad — was greeted with a video montage featuring a dramatic classical music score highlighting Dalian Wanda Group’s of mega-malls, skyscrapers, theme parks and financial milestones.

It also laid out some of the Chinese conglomerate’s ambitions, including reaching $100 billion in revenue and $10 billion in profit by 2020, and — mindful of its Hollywood audience — underlined its green building credentials. And soon after, Wanda founder and CEO Wang Jianlin — who sat next to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — took the stage to present the next chapter in Wanda’s plans to become a global force in entertainment.

Wang announced a 40 percent rebate — jointly funded by Wanda along with certain Chinese regional governments — intended to lure Hollywood production to China. More specifically, to Wanda’s under-construction Qingdao Movie Metropolis, a 408-acre studio that will include the world’s largest indoor sound stage. He noted that the incentives will total $750 million over the course of five years.

Also Read: China’s Wanda Group CEO Heads to Hollywood With All Eyes on Him

Wanda also announced the first batch of projects that will take advantage of the offering and shoot in Qingdao. “Pacific Rim 2,” produced by Wanda-owned Legendary Entertainment will be the first movie to shoot at the park when cameras roll later this month. Legendary’s “Godzilla” will also be shot there.

Lionsgate, along with China Media Capital-backed Infinity Pictures, Arad Productions, Arclight Films, Kylin Pictures, Base Media, Beijing Dirty Monkey Culture Industry Development and Juben Pictures have also agreed to shoot upcoming films at the $8.2 billion studio complex.

Wang repeatedly framed Qingdao Movie Metropolis as something that would complement Hollywood, not take business away from it.

Also Read: Sony Pictures, Dalian Wanda Group to Set Strategic Film Alliance

“This is an opportunity for Hollywood,” he said. “This is not a competition for Hollywood.”

He also provided details on the 40 percent rebate plan, which would be one of the world’s most generous. It’s being underwritten by the Qingdao regional governments in partnership with Wanda — the first time a private company has directly bankrolled an incentive plan like this.

Wanda has had an eventful 2016, beginning with its $3.5 billion purchase of Legendary Entertainment, a bout of theme park brinkmanship with Disney in June, and ongoing talks to acquire Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion. Wanda’s AMC Theaters is also in discussions to acquire Carmike Cinemas, making it North America’s largest exhibitor.

The conglomerate is on pace to spend $30 billion on deals this year — half in sports and entertainment. And last month, Wang confirmed his long-rumored desire to buy a major studio, telling CNN he’s interested in buying at least 50 percent of one of the “Big Six.”

Also Read: Why DC Started Caring About Dalian Wanda Group and China in Hollywood

And while Wanda has been scooping up entertainment assets since buying AMC Theaters back in 2012, Washington has recently taken notice. In a three-day span earlier this month, two separate government agencies were asked to take a closer look at Wanda’s entertainment dealings, and the Washington Post published an acerbic editorial warning that “China could seek to spread pro-regime propaganda via ownership of U.S. entertainment media.”

With that backdrop, Wang decided to tone down his trademark bombast — he’s previously boasted about Wanda’s theme parks and said Disney “really shouldn’t have come to China” on state-run TV. On Monday, he adopted a more conciliatory tone, viewing Hollywood as partners, not opponents to be vanquished. However, he did state that adding Chinese cultural elements in movies makes good business sense, as China is on pace to have the world’s largest box office as soon as next year.

“From a business perspective, just look at the best way to make money,” Wang advised. “Don’t make it a political issue.”

Also Read: Lawmaker Wants DOJ to Probe Dalian Wanda’s Hollywood Acquisitions

Wang said the best way for Hollywood to capitalize on that under-tapped market is to add “Chinese cultural elements” to blockbusters. “How do you add those elements?” he asked. “You can figure it out.”

Wang was preceded on stage by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Boone Isaacs said Hollywood benefits from “cross-pollination” between American filmmakers and international partners.

“We’re not growing if we aren’t gaining new perspective,” she said. “And China is a wonderful land in which to explore new horizons.”

Also Read: U.S. Government Agency Will Review Dalian Wanda, Chinese Investment in Hollywood … Eventually

Boone Isaacs also announced the naming of the Wanda Library at the Academy’s museum, currently under construction.

“Simply put, Wanda has the potential to create an unprecedented bridge between the American and Chinese movie communities,” she said, citing its ability to help U.S. filmmakers wade through “political and cultural challenges” in China.

Garcetti took the stage next — to the “Indiana Jones” theme. “Dalian Wanda has been an exceptional friend to Los Angeles,” the mayor said, mentioning the company’s significant local real estate developments — such as a condominium and hotel project in Beverly Hills — and “the investments you are now making in our signature industry, the entertainment industry.”

Garcetti said he wanted to welcome companies like Wanda — even as Wang comes to town to explicitly try to recruit filming elsewhere.

Wang argued that the Qingdao park wouldn’t directly pull production from Hollywood, but from other foreign destinations that have recently become popular filming spots, such as Australia. And while Garcetti reiterated that he would be “strong in promoting Los Angeles as a place to film.”

Also Read: TheGrill 2016: Michael Lynton Says Sony Will Not Be Sold to China’s Wanda — Or Anyone Else

Despite all the talk about working together, Wang couldn’t resist needling Hollywood a little bit, such as when he talked about the behind-the-camera jobs his new studio will create.

“Qingdao Movie Metropolis will increase a lot of employment opportunities for technical people in Hollywood,” Wang said. “They might even make more money at Qingdao Movie Metropolis.”

He also took a bit of a shot at what he perceived is the over-reliance of blockbusters on special effects rather than storytelling.

“From a Chinese perspective, Hollywood is the professor and Chinese filmmakers are the students,” he said. “How do you tell the teacher to increase their quality?”

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Lawmaker Wants DOJ to Probe Dalian Wanda’s Hollywood Acquisitions

5 Potential Pitfalls in Wanda’s Quest to Dominate Global Entertainment

China’s Wanda Group CEO Heads to Hollywood With All Eyes on Him

Monday night, surrounded by a who’s who of Hollywood luminaries, the most talked-about man in entertainment announced the latest steps in his plan for world domination. And a big part of it is a rebate.

The crowd filing into the “U.S.-Sino Business Evening” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater — which included the likes of Screening Room founder Sean Parker, Lionsgate co-chair Patrick Wachsberger, MGM CEO Gary Barber, Marvel Studios chairman Avi Arad — was greeted with a video montage featuring a dramatic classical music score highlighting Dalian Wanda Group’s of mega-malls, skyscrapers, theme parks and financial milestones.

It also laid out some of the Chinese conglomerate’s ambitions, including reaching $100 billion in revenue and $10 billion in profit by 2020, and — mindful of its Hollywood audience — underlined its green building credentials. And soon after, Wanda founder and CEO Wang Jianlin — who sat next to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — took the stage to present the next chapter in Wanda’s plans to become a global force in entertainment.

Wang announced a 40 percent rebate — jointly funded by Wanda along with certain Chinese regional governments — intended to lure Hollywood production to China. More specifically, to Wanda’s under-construction Qingdao Movie Metropolis, a 408-acre studio that will include the world’s largest indoor sound stage. He noted that the incentives will total $750 million over the course of five years.

Wanda also announced the first batch of projects that will take advantage of the offering and shoot in Qingdao. “Pacific Rim 2,” produced by Wanda-owned Legendary Entertainment will be the first movie to shoot at the park when cameras roll later this month. Legendary’s “Godzilla” will also be shot there.

Lionsgate, along with China Media Capital-backed Infinity Pictures, Arad Productions, Arclight Films, Kylin Pictures, Base Media, Beijing Dirty Monkey Culture Industry Development and Juben Pictures have also agreed to shoot upcoming films at the $8.2 billion studio complex.

Wang repeatedly framed Qingdao Movie Metropolis as something that would complement Hollywood, not take business away from it.

“This is an opportunity for Hollywood,” he said. “This is not a competition for Hollywood.”

He also provided details on the 40 percent rebate plan, which would be one of the world’s most generous. It’s being underwritten by the Qingdao regional governments in partnership with Wanda — the first time a private company has directly bankrolled an incentive plan like this.

Wanda has had an eventful 2016, beginning with its $3.5 billion purchase of Legendary Entertainment, a bout of theme park brinkmanship with Disney in June, and ongoing talks to acquire Dick Clark Productions for $1 billion. Wanda’s AMC Theaters is also in discussions to acquire Carmike Cinemas, making it North America’s largest exhibitor.

The conglomerate is on pace to spend $30 billion on deals this year — half in sports and entertainment. And last month, Wang confirmed his long-rumored desire to buy a major studio, telling CNN he’s interested in buying at least 50 percent of one of the “Big Six.”

And while Wanda has been scooping up entertainment assets since buying AMC Theaters back in 2012, Washington has recently taken notice. In a three-day span earlier this month, two separate government agencies were asked to take a closer look at Wanda’s entertainment dealings, and the Washington Post published an acerbic editorial warning that “China could seek to spread pro-regime propaganda via ownership of U.S. entertainment media.”

With that backdrop, Wang decided to tone down his trademark bombast — he’s previously boasted about Wanda’s theme parks and said Disney “really shouldn’t have come to China” on state-run TV. On Monday, he adopted a more conciliatory tone, viewing Hollywood as partners, not opponents to be vanquished. However, he did state that adding Chinese cultural elements in movies makes good business sense, as China is on pace to have the world’s largest box office as soon as next year.

“From a business perspective, just look at the best way to make money,” Wang advised. “Don’t make it a political issue.”

Wang said the best way for Hollywood to capitalize on that under-tapped market is to add “Chinese cultural elements” to blockbusters. “How do you add those elements?” he asked. “You can figure it out.”

Wang was preceded on stage by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Boone Isaacs said Hollywood benefits from “cross-pollination” between American filmmakers and international partners.

“We’re not growing if we aren’t gaining new perspective,” she said. “And China is a wonderful land in which to explore new horizons.”

Boone Isaacs also announced the naming of the Wanda Library at the Academy’s museum, currently under construction.

“Simply put, Wanda has the potential to create an unprecedented bridge between the American and Chinese movie communities,” she said, citing its ability to help U.S. filmmakers wade through “political and cultural challenges” in China.

Garcetti took the stage next — to the “Indiana Jones” theme. “Dalian Wanda has been an exceptional friend to Los Angeles,” the mayor said, mentioning the company’s significant local real estate developments — such as a condominium and hotel project in Beverly Hills — and “the investments you are now making in our signature industry, the entertainment industry.”

Garcetti said he wanted to welcome companies like Wanda — even as Wang comes to town to explicitly try to recruit filming elsewhere.

Wang argued that the Qingdao park wouldn’t directly pull production from Hollywood, but from other foreign destinations that have recently become popular filming spots, such as Australia. And while Garcetti reiterated that he would be “strong in promoting Los Angeles as a place to film.”

Despite all the talk about working together, Wang couldn’t resist needling Hollywood a little bit, such as when he talked about the behind-the-camera jobs his new studio will create.

“Qingdao Movie Metropolis will increase a lot of employment opportunities for technical people in Hollywood,” Wang said. “They might even make more money at Qingdao Movie Metropolis.”

He also took a bit of a shot at what he perceived is the over-reliance of blockbusters on special effects rather than storytelling.

“From a Chinese perspective, Hollywood is the professor and Chinese filmmakers are the students,” he said. “How do you tell the teacher to increase their quality?”

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