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'Wandering Earth' boosts Oriental Movie Metropolis' profile

By Xie Chuanjiao and Liu Yukun | | Updated: 2019-02-18 17:00
The Oriental Movie Metropolis located in west Qingdao, a place known for incubating art and cultural projects. [Photo provided to]

As China's sci-fi hit "The Wandering Earth" takes box office by storm, Oriental Movie Metropolis in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, where some of the major scenes in the film were shot, has attracted growing attention from domestic audience interested in learning about the "birthplace" of the blockbuster.

According to the latest box office figures, the film has earned 4.1 billion yuan ($606 million) until Saturday.

Qingdao-based Yu Shasha is one of the movie buffs. The 27-year-old said she watched the film during the Spring Festival holiday, a traditional movie-going peak, and was thrilled to find out the production base was only two-hour drive from her home.

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

The storm scenes Yu referred to were shot in Sound Stage 20, which was also the place where the long take in the underground city shown in the beginning of the film was filmed, 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. This was the first time anything like that was done," said Wang Hong, producer of movie. "Although it took nearly two months to finish, the space capsule's debut in the film was worth it."

Production team of the movie at the space capsule built inside a sound stage in Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis. [Photo provided to]

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

The expectations seem to go parallel with that of billionaire Wang Jianlin, also head of Dalian Wanda Group and once funder of Oriental Movie Metropolis. Wang said at the project's official opening that he will turn the city of Qingdao into a global film production hub with over 50 billion yuan 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.

Currently, 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 China and abroad.

Film poster of "The Wandering Earth" premiered during Spring Festival. [Photo provided to]

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 local government.

Qingdao government has vowed to offer foreign film and TV studios big discount to film at the site. Together with Oriental Movie Metropolis, it offered "The Great Wall", a 2016 China-US co-production film, subsidy worth roughly 16 million yuan. Subsidies to film shot in the site can reach up to 40 percent of its production cost spent in Qingdao from Oriental Movie Metropolis.

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

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