Sony Close to Motion Picture Alliance With China’s Wanda

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  • Deal could involve cooperation in financing, marketing
  • Agreement would build on Wanda’s Hollywood ambitions

Sony Said Close to Wanda Alliance

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. is nearing an agreement to collaborate on movie projects with Sony Corp.’s film unit, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

An accord could involve co-financing and other forms of cooperation, such as marketing, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is still private. Wanda may finance up to 10 percent of some films, the person said.

Representatives at Wanda and Sony either declined to comment or didn’t immediately respond to queries.

For China’s Wanda, which operates the largest number of movie screens worldwide, a deal with the studio behind the "Spider-Man" movies would build on Wang’s ambitions to expand in Hollywood after snapping up independent film producer Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion this year. Wanda’s AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. has also agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas Inc., which would make it the biggest operator of cinemas in the U.S.

For the Hollywood arm of Sony, the Japanese maker of the PlayStation, winning the backing of Wanda could help it gain greater access to China’s restricted movie market. Wanda operates the largest movie-theater chain in China, where the box office is headed towards overtaking the U.S. by as soon as next year.

“Wanda is a big deep-pocketed partner so to not go it alone makes much sense,” Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based global head of Japan equity sales at BGC Partners Inc., wrote in an e-mail. “Overall, it’s a positive development and we just have to wait and see how much its potential contribution could be.”

Earnings at Sony’s film unit, which includes Columbia Pictures, slumped 34 percent last fiscal year as the studio struggled to find hits in recent years. reported earlier Wednesday on the Sony-Wanda talks.