Kung Fu Panda is among DreamWorks' creations
DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday said it plans to build a $3.2 billion "entertainment zone" in Shanghai, as the US film giant seeks to bolster its presence in the booming Chinese market.
The studio's newly-formed China joint venture, Oriental DreamWorks, is set to open the tourism attraction in 2016, the creator of megahits like "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda" said in a statement.
The project -- called the Dream Center -- will comprise entertainment facilities, animation exhibitions and commercial developments including hotels and shopping areas in Shanghai's Xuhui district, it said.
The announcement comes after US entertainment giant Disney last year broke ground on a planned $3.7 billion theme park in Shanghai, scheduled to open in 2015.
However, one of the DreamWorks' Chinese partners denied being in competition with Disney, describing the project not as a theme park, but as an "entertainment zone".
"It's different from any other large cultural project in China, including Disneyland," Li Ruigang, chairman of China Media Capital was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
DreamWorks in February announced plans for a $330 million joint venture company with three Chinese partners -- China Media Capital, Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Alliance Investment -- to cooperate on film productions.
Tuesday's statement posted on DreamWorks' website said that joint venture had now been formally established, with the three state-backed Chinese firms together holding a majority 55 percent stake in the company.
Oriental Dreamworks will make the next "Kung Fu Panda" movie -- the third instalment in the hugely popular series -- in China as a co-production for release in 2016, the statement said.
It plans to release up to three major films a year, with its first feature-length animated film scheduled for global release in 2017, it said.
The huge commitment in local production comes even though Beijing maintains strict quotas which limit the number of foreign movies allowed into China.
Imports of foreign films into China on a revenue-sharing basis are currently limited to just 34 annually, though that was raised from 20 earlier this year.
Disney said in April it had joined an initiative to develop Chinese animation productions.
It will also co-produce Iron Man 3 in China with DMG Entertainment, as Hollywood seeks to tap into the fast-growing movie market.
China's box office grew an annual 35 percent to $2.0 billion in 2011, making it the second largest international market behind Japan, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.