Wanda Reassures Hollywood That It's Still in the Game

  • Chinese group’s film chief to address L.A. movie executives
  • Zeng to give presentation on China and box-office growth

The Hollywood Sign in Hollywood, California.

Photographer: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin invited his Hollywood partners to an address by his top entertainment lieutenant in Los Angeles this week amid rising concern that the flow of investment from his conglomerate could come to a halt.

Zeng Maojun, president of Wanda Film Holding Co., is scheduled to speak to film executives in the AMC Century City 15 theater Tuesday morning local time in a 90-minute closed-door meeting, according to an invitation seen by Bloomberg News. Zeng is to give a presentation titled “Chinese Market Update: Driving Global Box Office Growth.”

The main purpose of the address and meetings Tuesday is to further reassure Hollywood industry leaders that Wanda isn’t retreating from the entertainment business despite intensifying government scrutiny, according to people familiar with the plans. Zeng, who helps oversee Wanda’s U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., Legendary Entertainment LLC and domestic production unit Wanda Pictures Co. will also hold meetings with studios while in Los Angeles, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter.

Zeng couldn’t be reached for comment.

Wanda has been under scrutiny in China as its debt-fueled expansion into Hollywood drew the attention of regulators concerned about excessive risk in overseas deals, people familiar with the matter said in July. As the pressure bore down on the conglomerate, Wanda agreed to sell most of its domestic theme park assets to property developer Sunac China Holdings Ltd. for 43.8 billion yuan ($6.6 billion).

Read this primer on why China is threatening Wanda’s Hollywood dream

The conglomerate remains in management control of the Qingdao Movie Metropolis it debuted to Hollywood executives a year ago as the world’s largest studio complex. Wang himself invited top Hollywood producers to make movies at the sprawling campus and offered subsidies to make it worth their while.

Last year, Wanda became the first Chinese firm to own a Hollywood film production company when it paid $3.5 billion for Legendary Entertainment, maker of movies like “Kong: Skull Island” and “Straight Outta Compton.” Wang, who’s talked of buying stakes in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and MGM Holdings Inc., has also said he wants to control 20 percent of the global film market by 2020.

— With assistance by Jing Yang De Morel, and Anousha Sakoui

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