- Investment would deepen Chinese company's ties to Hollywood
- Billionaire Wang Jianlin's company bought AMC theaters in 2012
Dalian Wanda Group Co., led by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, is close to a deal to buy a majority stake in Legendary Entertainment, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Wanda plans to acquire the stakes in Legendary held by outside investors including SoftBank Group, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Legendary, the producer of “Jurassic World” and “Straight Outta Compton,” would be valued at near $4 billion in the deal, one of the people said.
The investment in Burbank, California-based Legendary would mark Wanda’s biggest step yet into U.S. movie-making. The Beijing-based real estate group acquired the second largest U.S. theater chain, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., in 2012 and took it public in 2013. This year, the company backed its first U.S. production, Weinstein Co.’s “Southpaw.”
The Chinese company plans to announce the purchase next week, one person said. Spokesmen for Wanda and Legendary declined to comment. Hiroe Kotera, a representative for SoftBank Group, wasn’t immediately able to comment.
Ticket sales in China, the world’s second-largest film market, rose 48 percent to $6.75 billion in 2015, according to analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence.
Legendary, founded in 2000 by Chief Executive Officer Thomas Tull, has produced and financed films including “Godzilla” and Warner Bros.’ “Dark Knight” series. It also has a television arm. Management holds a minority stake in the company, one of the people said.
Wanda, which has been making acquisitions worldwide in films, sports and finance, plans to list its movie production business in China by 2016, Wang said in an interview with Caixin magazine in November. The company is building the world’s biggest studio-plus-theme park on China’s eastern coast and in 2014 bought land in Beverly Hills, California, to build a $1.2 billion complex.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Wanda was close to buying a majority stake in Legendary, citing an unidentified person.