If You Build It, They Will Come: Chinese Town Gets Hollywood Makeover
A five-hour drive southwest of Shanghai, in the hills near a manufacturing hub, something like a mirage appears among the smokestacks: a full-scale replica of Beijing's Forbidden City.
Welcome to 'Chinawood,' the world's largest outdoor film studio in the fastest-growing film market.
At more than 2,500 acres, Hengdian World Studios, as it is officially known, is larger than Universal and Paramount Studios combined. Its sets have appeared in more than 800 Chinese television shows and films.
Hengdian has plenty to offer beyond the Forbidden City. There is the Qin dynasty imperial palace that was the backdrop for the movie 'Hero.' There are 100 authentic Ming dynasty riverside houses shipped in from southern China, and the largest indoor Buddha in China.
'We've already surpassed Hollywood in volume,' says 76-year-old Xu Wenrong, a one-time farmer who owns the studios. 'Here, we offer everything.'