Dalian Wanda Group will buy a controlling stake in Hollywood film studio
Legendary Entertainment in a deal valued at $3.5bn (2.4bn pounds).
The announcement, made at a press conference by both firms in Beijing,
comes after a week of rumours about a possible deal.
Wanda is the world’s biggest movie theatre operator with a majority
stake in the US chain AMC.
The rapidly growing group is led by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin. Mr
Wang has been looking to buy a Hollywood studio for several years and
was reported to be in talks with DreamWorks Animation last year, but a
deal was not announced.
Legendary is the maker of blockbuster hits such as Jurassic World, the
Dark Knight Batman trilogy and Godzilla.
Chairman and chief executive Thomas Tull, who also started the company,
will remain as the head of the studio. Buying Legendary Entertainment
puts Wanda on the road to becoming a global media company and one of the
world’s biggest players in movie production. It already owns China’s
biggest chain of cinemas as well as cinemas in the United States.
But will it compromise artistic standards by leading to films which have
to please too many people?
Wanda’s founder and chairman, Wang Jianlin, told the BBC that Hollywood
films would have to adapt to the Chinese market if they wanted to
succeed there: "I think this is very normal because US companies want to
grab a share in the Chinese high-growth market. They should do something
to cater to Chinese audiences’ interests — if they don’t, there might be
The new combined operation is making a movie about the Great Wall,
featuring Matt Damon with Chinese director, Zhang Yimou. It’s due for
release this year.
But the enlarged media company is expected to steer clear of any movies
that might fall foul of the strict censorship of political matters in
Wanda described the deal as "China’s largest cross-border cultural
acquisition to date". It is aimed at increasing ties between Hollywood
and the world’s fastest growing movie market, China. The Chinese
conglomerate said that Legendary’s films have grossed over $12bn