SHANGHAI-Launching a campaign that will expose the media giant to China “in a big way,” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios has signed a licensing agreement allowing for construction of a new lifestyle center here, company officials have announced. MGM Studio World will open in 2010 to coincide with the World’s Fair Expo also coming to this city of 18 million people.

“Given our studio’s rich history, MGM is synonymous with Hollywood, and we are excited to bring this experience to consumers in Shanghai,” says CEO Harry Sloan, in a release. The 200,000-sf development, he explains, is “the first step in bridging traditional Hollywood entertainment with China’s film and television industry.”

MGM is joining forces with a partnership of Shanghai Tianhong Real Estate Investment Co. and Hong Kong-registered Tengxun Entertainment Management in a deal sporting a total investment value of $15.5 million. Tianhong will be the developer and contractor, and Tengxun is serving as project manager and will be responsible for operating the complex upon completion. MGM will serve as licensor and creative collaborator, but will not participate in the project financially or in operations.

Tianhong chairman Chai Zhi-kun vows that MGM Studio World “will become one of the best shopping venues in Shanghai,” while Tengxun president Bao Hwang boasts the venture “sets a new standard of collaboration between the entertainment industry and commercial real estate” as China opens itself up to the world.

“We are looking forward to working with MGM and leveraging this exciting project to develop more business opportunities in China,” says Hwang, whose firm was established in 1999. The MGM initiative has been in the works since 2002.

MGM Studio World will combine dining, retailing, nighttime venues and entertainment in an indoor setting. Initial designs show the MGM logo displayed prominently at the entrances to the complex. Among the key branded areas will be on the exterior marquee and a central plaza that will incorporate water features, special effects and films from MGM’s library of 4,000 titles.

Besides the multiple movie divisions, MGM has ownership interests in the television channels for 110 countries, and those programs will also be intertwined into the shopping experience. “We are placing the MGM brand in China in a big way,” pledges Sloan, further calling MGM Studio World “a chance to build strong partnerships with China in the future” for his California-based conglomerate.

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