Work is underway on DreamWorks project in China
SHANGHAI — DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg’s quest to build what he hopes will be China’s answer to New York’s Broadway has taken a big step forward.
The movie mogul’s $2.4billion entertainment, cultural, retail and office development called Shanghai DreamCenter has had its official groundbreaking. Construction workers have begun work on the foundation of a 13-level tower that will be the new headquarters of Oriental DreamWorks and linked to a large, X-shaped Imax cinema complex via a pathway envisioned as an extended red carpet.
The waterfront development is scheduled to open in late 2017 on a choice parcel south of the city’s historic Bund district. It ref lects a desire by Chinese government officials to encourage the development of what they call “cultural industries.” Shanghai DreamCenter is a joint project of DreamWorks Animation, private equity firm China Media Capital and Hong Kong developer Lan Kwai Fong Group.
“There’s nothing like it in China or the world, really,” said Bill Lykouras, design director of Lan Kwai Fong Group, though he said London’s South Bank might be the next closest thing.
Detailed financial terms of the venture have not been disclosed, but Katzenberg has been something of a chief cheerleader for the am- bitious 5-million-squarefoot project, which would be at least four times bigger than Universal CityWalk. The Oriental DreamWorks movie studio will have room for 500-plus animators, up from the company’s current 250 employees, and will be at the physical heart of the complex.
Situated on the grounds of a shuttered cement factory, the complex will have five major live-performance venues with 8,500 seats in total, including a 3,000-seat facility housed in a dome where cement was once mixed. In addition to hosting international touring productions of musicals and dramas, the DreamCenter is envisioned as a magnet for pop, rock and jazz concerts; sporting events such as mixed martial arts and motorbike racing; fashion shows and awards ceremonies; and conferences, art fairs and touring exhibitions such as the Body Worlds human anatomy show.
Planning is also underway for a Lego Discovery Center and an attraction tentatively called the Kung Fu Panda Experience. The complex is designed by New York architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, which is behind the massive Hudson Yards redevelopment project on Manhattan’s West Side.
The Imax theater, meanwhile, will have eight to nine screens and presumably be the ideal venue to host premieres of productions from Oriental DreamWorks.