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Wanda opens doors to Chinese film metropolis, but it turns its focus back home

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Wang Jianlin, the billionaire boss of China’s Dalian Wanda Group, said on Saturday he will turn the northern port city of Qingdao into a global film production hub as he launched a sprawling studio complex in a ceremony attended by hundreds.

Covering an area equivalent to more than 200 soccer pitches, the 400-acre Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis boasts the world’s biggest movie studio and has been touted as China’s answer to Hollywood.

The $8 billion project, built partly on an artificial island, also includes hotels, a theme park and a yacht club.

Wang, whose group controls U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings and U.S. studio Legendary Entertainment, promised generous subsidies for film makers but indicated a focus on China’s domestic film market.

“We will boost the Chinese movie industry development,” Wang said at the project’s opening ceremony.

“We will also turn Qingdao into a global hub for film,” he said, making no reference to Hollywood in his brief speech.

Hundreds of Chinese film industry representatives attended, as well as Hollywood executives and Chinese government officials that included the vice governor of Shandong province.

The launch came as the mutual courtship between China and Hollywood looks less rosy.

A handful of U.S.-China film ventures have fallen apart due to cultural clashes. Financing deals — including Wanda’s $1 billion wooing of Hollywood studio Dick Clark Productions — have also collapsed. Hollywood’s share of the Chinese market has lost ground to a surge of popular and sometimes patriotic-minded Chinese films.

“We are not making any commitment yet,” David Kornblum, vice president of international sales and marketing for the Asia-Pacific at Walt Disney Studios, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Oriental launch.

Wanda sold off the Qingdao project to rival property developer Sunac China Holdings Ltd last year amid a sweeping sell-down of assets to raise funds. It retains management control of the project.

However Wanda, which has long been luring Hollywood studios to make movies in China, has said its pledged 5 billion yuan ($790 million) “development fund” still stands.

So far, no major American movie has been produced at Oriental, which partially opened in 2016, except Legendary Entertainment’s “Pacific Rim: Uprising” and “Great Wall.”

Wanda said previously it aimed to host at least five to six Hollywood projects in its first year of full operation in 2018.

China’s box office revenue is still swelling at double-digit rates after years of breakneck growth and, with Hollywood know-how and bigger budgets, Chinese movies are gaining momentum as they find ways to play on domestic themes and improve production quality.

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‘Roaring 20s’ after the pandemic? Big banks warn be careful what you wish for

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GameStop jumps more than 100% even as hedge funds cover short bets, scrutiny of rally intensifies

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Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of GameStop surged again Wednesday, continuing the streak of wild swings for the stock as several high-profile short sellers said they had backed away from their positions.

The name traded at roughly $342 per share when it was briefly halted at about 11:19 a.m. ET, up almost 131% from Tuesday’s close and giving the company a market cap of about $24 billion. The stock traded as high as $380 per share in premarket trading.

The latest move higher comes as some of the high-profile short sellers of GameStop, including Melvin Capital and Citron, announced that they covered most or all of their positions.

The stock lost some of its premarket gains after the short sellers made their announcements, but the shares rebounded to new highs shortly before the market open.

GameStop’s nearly vertical surge over the past week has come as retail traders, many of whom have documented their moves on the social media site Reddit, have piled into the stock and call options. The spiking share price has helped to create a stock squeeze, where shorts and options dealers are forced to buy shares of a rising stock to cover their positions, resulting in a feedback loop that drives the stock even higher.

The name appeared to get a boost in extended trading on Tuesday after Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out the link to the Reddit board where much of the discussion has taken place.

The video game retailer, which had a market cap of less than $4 billion at the end of last week, was the most traded stock on the market by value Tuesday, according to Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid.

GameStop’s rapid rise has drawn comparisons to speculative trading during the tech bubble of the late 1990s and led many Wall Street veterans to warn investors about the potential for significant losses.

Hedge fund manager Michael Burry, who reported holding 1.7 million shares of the stock at the end of September, said in a now-deleted tweet that the rise was “unnatural, insane, and dangerous.” Burry also told Bloomberg News that he did not have a current long or short position in the stock.

William Galvin, Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, told Barron’s that the trading in GameStop could be “systemically wrong.”

Bank of America raised its price target on the stock to just $10 per share on Wednesday, saying in a note to clients that the increased share price could help GameStop’s turnaround plans but presented a risk for investors.

“While it is difficult to know how much very high short interest and retail ownership … could continue to put upward pressure on shares, we think fundamentals will again factor into valuation,” the note said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment to CNBC.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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PepsiCo CEO, top UN officials discuss future of food systems

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More than 1 billion tons of food is wasted every year. And agriculture is still a major driving force of climate change.

With world leaders looking to ensure the post-coronavirus recovery is one that’s sustainable and inclusive, the need to improve farming and food systems has never been more urgent.

To discuss the key issues at stake, CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick speaks with a panel of experts at the virtual Davos Agenda, including:

  • Dongyu Qu, director-general of the the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization
  • Wiebe Draijer, chairman of the managing board at Rabobank
  • Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo
  • Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica
  • Agnes Kalibata, special envoy for the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit
  • Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations

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