Billionaire Wang’s Wanda Agrees to Invest in Sony Movies

  • Move builds on plans to raise China’s influence in Hollywood
  • Wanda says it will pursue more alliances with film makers

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. agreed to collaborate on movie projects with Sony Corp.’s film unit as the Chinese tycoon builds on his ambitions to expand in Hollywood.

Wanda will invest in productions from Sony Pictures as part of an open-ended partnership, the Chinese company said in a statement on Friday. In turn, Wanda will "highlight the China elements" in the movies it invests in, it said.

For China’s Wanda, which operates the largest number of movie screens worldwide, a deal with the studio behind the "Spider-Man" movies is its latest expansion 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.

"In the past, the partnership between a Chinese company and a Hollywood mainstream studio was mostly limited to small investment in a single film, and the Chinese company was a passive investor in both content and investment amount," according to the statement. "The alliance will help strengthen Wanda’s power to influence the global film industry, and set a good precedent for Chinese film producers in their international investment."

Wanda will pursue more strategic alliances with content companies, it said.

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 toward overtaking the U.S. as soon as next year.

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