Work is un­der­way on Dream­Works project in China

Los Angeles Times - - COMPANY TOWN - By Julie Maki­nen juliemaki­nen@la­times.com

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.

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