SHANGHAI, March 20 (Xinhua) -- A joint venture between DreamWorks Animation (DWA), producer of the Hollywood blockbuster "Kung Fu Panda," and its Chinese partners is scheduled to release its first animated film in 2016, the head of the U.S. studio said Tuesday.
Oriental DreamWorks' first production will be 3-D-based and feature Chinese elements, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DWA, told Xinhua on the sidelines of his two-day visit to the Shanghai-based joint venture.
Katzenberg said there are seven proposals competing for the production.
"It's a little early to be able to say which one of those seven will be our first film, but they're all inspired by, and based on, subjects that are known and familiar and unique to China," Katzenberg said.
"It'll take us four years. Making a great story will just take that much time," he added.
Ultimately, Oriental DreamWorks will become a landmark entertainment center in Shanghai, combining live entertainment, retail space, cinemas and theaters, just like Broadway in New York and Hollywood in Los Angeles, Katzenberg said.
"We want to create uniquely for Shanghai. It should be a central place of Shanghai and it doesn't really exist to date," he said.
The partnership was announced a month ago during Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S. The Chinese partners are three state-owned, Shanghai-based groups -- China Media Capital, Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Alliance Investment Limited.
With a preliminary investment totaling 330 million U.S. dollars, the Chinese side will hold 55 percent of the new venture, leaving the other 45 percent to the American side. It is set to begin operations later this year.
Yu Zhengsheng, chief of the Communist Party of China Shanghai committee, told Katzenberg on Monday that the city is marching toward becoming an international metropolis, and he hopes that Oriental DreamWorks can produce world-leading cultural products.
Katzenberg said the Shanghai studio will focus on stories that "have a connection to the culture and history and the literature of China."
Katzenberg said DWA, which has been behind a number of blockbuster 3D animations, will bring its advanced 3D technology that their technicians and animators have been developing over the past five years to the Shanghai studio.
"3D can't make a bad movie good, but it can make a good movie great," he said, repeating the importance of a good story. "Always, story, story, story. First, second and third, they are all great stories."
For 2012, work will focus on assembling talents into a competent team, Katzenberg said.
Many people in the sector hope that Oriental DreamWorks can help train the next generation of Chinese animators.
"Many of our students want to work part-time in the DreamWorks studio. It used to be a difficult thing, but not anymore," said Sun Lijun, head of the animation department of Beijing Film College. "Animation students in Beijing, Nanjing and Hangzhou are all enthusiastic about it."
DreamWorks has most recently taken the spotlight with "Kung Fu Panda" and "Kung Fu Panda 2." Both achieved impressive box office success in the Chinese market, with the latter reaching ticket sales of 470 million yuan (75.2 million U.S. dollars).
Meanwhile, China's film industry took in over 13.1 billion yuan at the box office in 2011, an increase of 28.93 percent from 2010. Domestic productions took in 7.03 billion yuan in box office earnings last year, about 53.6 percent of total ticket sales, according to government data.