More than just a film lot, the vast Hengdian Studios embodies both a history of China and its future
On a sweltering, overcast afternoon, an old bus from Yiwu city is bouncing along the narrow mountain road toward the town of Hengdian, Zhejiang province, its windows covered with translucent dark-blue paper. Inside, it’s gloomy and smells of gasoline. But no one’s complaining: The passengers are looking forward to spotting some celebrities.
“I am sure she is in Guangzhou Street,” says one young woman, discussing actress Zhao Liying (The Journey of Flower, Princess Agents). “We can definitely see her there tomorrow.” Her friend has a different opinion: “The show she is filming is set in the Song dynasty, so they must be in the ‘Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival.’”
We are heading for Hengdian World Studios, the largest outdoor film lot in the world, spanning over 2,500 acres—27 times larger than Paramount and Universal Studios put together. It’s one of China’s biggest attractions, pulling in more than 100 million tourists since it opened in 1996.
Dream Factory is a story from our issue, “Cloud Country.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.