DreamWorks to Develop a New Broadway Entertainment District in Shanghai

Broadway Shanghai-style. Source: New York Times

This project was brought to my attention today by a planner here and I thought it was too interesting not to share. The article describes recently announced plans to build an entertainment district on Shanghai’s Huangpu River shore that aims to rival New York’s Broadway and London’s West End. This hyperbole seems a bit overzealous to me, given that most of the articles I see about China these days revolve around the slowing economic engine and great fears of the Central Government (as well as the girlfriend of a serial killer and a little island in the East China Sea). I’ve linked a few of these below. The question they raise is whether the Chinese middle-class, notoriously good at saving money (to pay for healthcare, insurance, and schooling), will respond to even the hint of an economic slowdown with the kind of conservation that will make this kind of service-oriented project a ghost town should it ever be built. Even with the potential for failure, this kind of project is an exciting idea and will no doubt inspire other megacities across the nation to consider bold measures to spur the local services sector.

SHANGHAI — DreamWorks Animation SKG, the Hollywood studio behind hits like “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar,” said on Tuesday that it planned to develop a $3.1 billion cultural and entertainment district in Shanghai with a group of Chinese partners.

The Dream Center, a riverfront complex to cover six large city blocks, has ambitions to rival the Broadway theater district in New York and the West End in London, with theaters, performance halls, restaurants, shops and an entertainment zone with a “Kung Fu Panda” theme.

The Chinese government is encouraging such projects, trying to strengthen the nation’s media and cultural industries while seeking to satisfy the tastes of its growing middle class, a tempting market for the American studios. Beijing also wants to rebalance growth by encouraging more consumer spending to go along with exports and investment.

The project also aligns with the grand ambitions of Shanghai, the wealthiest and most modern metropolis in China, to further burnish its credentials as a business and cultural center.

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