Will "Chinawood" Challenge Hollywood?

Petersen--"Chinawood"
Petersen--"Chinawood"
CBS

Act One of China's moviemaking story opens in Hong Dien in southern China, where there are a dozen movie sets.

It all started right there, when they built a replica of China's imperial city. But, this being the movies, CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports, they borrowed a page from Hollywood, and they made the replica bigger than the real thing.

Act Two is a rags-to-riches story that any Hollywood director would die for.

Sho Win Wang was a poor farmer who founded a company that makes everything from electronics to pharmaceuticals. He became a rich man. But he wanted something that would benefit his hometown. In 10 years, his millions have turned a once-backwards village into the film-making capital of the East.

Sho's dream doesn't stop there. He expects this to become the movie capital of the world — even bigger than Hollywood, he told CBS News.

Actually, millions of Americans who saw the movie "Hero" saw scenes filmed there. And the Canadian-American miniseries "Marco Polo" just wrapped production.

How does he attract moviemakers? Ah, that's the plot twist. They can use the studio for free, says Sho.

It's free because the studio makes millions from tourists. They pay admission to visit the film lots for a chance to see how it's all done. The profits mean moviemakers can use the sets for no charge — and for local people, movie magic means making money.

Jung Sho Ay tended rice paddies until his fields were filled in with buildings. Now he's earning $3 a day as an extra — a much better living for him and hundreds of others.

Acting is better than being a rice farmer, he says — you get free food and clothes, and it's effortless.

Time for the final act: What to call the place. Well maybe those moviemakers on the other side of the world have the right idea with a big, picture-perfect ending. How about "Chinawood?"