China’s Hollywood dream: Chinese tycoon set to buy ‘Legendary’ Hollywood studio

The American Dream and the Chinese Dream may not mesh, but when it comes to films the two dreams may intertwine with China’s richest man set to buy “legendary” Hollywood studio, known for making blockbusters like “Jurassic World”, “Godzilla” and “Interstellar.”

Wanda Group, headed by Wang Jianlin, has announced the deal for buying Legendary Entertainment for a whooping amount of $3.5 billion. After the recent acquisition, it will be world’s largest cinema chain operator.

“American movie companies have the commanding heights of the movie industry in the world,” Wang said in a statement. “The acquisition of Legendary will make Wanda Film Holdings Company the highest revenue-generating film company in the world, increasing Wanda’s presence in China and the U.S., the world’s two largest markets,” he added.

The Wanda Group has been on a roll over the last few years, acquiring assets across the business spectrum and all over the world. It has its origins in commercial property but has been diversifying into areas of entertainment and e-commerce. The conglomerate has a significant stake in the Spanish football club Atletico Madrid and is an organiser of Ironman extreme endurance contests as well. Wang has also bought a US cinema chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion previously. 

There has been a growing presence of China in the entertainment sector around the world. Being the world’s most populous country, the market for films is set to grow in China. During the Lunar New Year holiday last year, Chinese monthly box office earning surpassed those of the US for the first time. Chinese box office is the second largest globally and is predicted to overtake North America by 2018.

Hollywood’s China charm offensive

Hollywood is a capitalist market and they have been making efforts to adjust and be to the needs of the Chinese market, which has elicited criticism that compromises are being made to strike it rich in what is set to be the world’s largest film market.

There has been widespread effort by the American companies to infuse Chinese stars in their movies to please the Chinese audience and pander to their tastes and sensibilities. This is a huge soft power move by China and as the Hollywood and Chinese film industries are becoming more interwoven.

There is a new deal every month as Hollywood has been smart enough to forge partnerships which will promote their products in China. Analysts say that science fiction, action and fantasy movies are increasingly in demand in China. Given tight state controls over the entertainment business in China, Hollywood film-makers make it a point to avoid politics and social criticism to cater to the Chinese audience. The move to buy the Legendary Entertainment is set to bolster the linkages between Hollywood and the burgeoning Chinese film industry.

(Rubaina Sangha contributed inputs for this article)


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