China hires Hollywood producer for new digital film complex

China is building its first digital film center, with pre-production, production and post-production services and six soundstages, in the city of Wuxi, 45 minutes from Shanghai by high speed rail.

The Wuxi Studio Development and Promotion Committee in charge of the venue has also brought film producer and former Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences president Sid Ganis into the venture, in hopes of luring international filming to the facility.

Currently China places a 20-titles-per-year limit on foreign films, accounting for almost half of its box-office revenues. Approximately 500 Chinese films are released annually.

The Chinese box office earned approximately $1.5 billion last year, having grown sixfold over five years, according to a report in blog The Wrap.

"Business is huge in China these days, but not for most foreign films yet," said Ganis, who will look to having the quota raised for foreign films. The whole issue of cinema has been very important in exporting China to the rest of the world," he said, "and importing the rest of the world to China."

The Wuxi center is being built in an old converted steel mill and is expected to begin operations in early 2012. It will offer visual effects, research and development, animation, and cloud computing.