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China’s Wanda Group buys AMC Entertainment, now world’s largest movie theater owner

Jason Cangialosi

May 29th, 2012

The Chinese Conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group, made its mark in Hollywood on May 20, 2012, acquiring AMC Entertainment's 304 theaters in a $2.6 Billion deal. As China's largest movie theater operator, Wanda Group is now the largest in the world with the addition of 5,034 screens at AMC multiplexes. The Kansas City-based theater owner was the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., next to Regal Entertainment Group, but sat on $2 billion in debt, absorbed by the Wanda Group deal, according to Bloomberg.

The announcement echoes an emerging presence of China in the U.S. film industry, as Hollywood big boys like DreamWorks, and Disney announced joint ventures with Chinese entertainment and technology companies. That IRON MAN, t-shirt may say "Made in China," but Marvel's IRON MAN 3 will also be co-produced by China's DMG Entertinament. James Cameron had a record-setting $11.6 million opening day box office in China for the TITANIC 3D release, and mentioned co-producing AVATAR 2 with China Film Group, according to The Economist.

The Wanda Group set its own record in making the largest investment into the U.S. entertainment industry with their purchase of AMC. TheLos Angeles Times reported that Wanda will additionally invest $500 million in AMC Theaters, which includes expanding RealD and Imax theaters in China's burgeoning box office market. In fact, China surpassed the Japanese market as the largest foreign box office for U.S. films, while ticket sales stateside have been on the decline since 2009. The deal also gave Wanda leverage in expanding the U.S. market for RealD and Imax screens at AMC theaters, and the investment includes expansion of bars and enhanced menus at AMC theaters in the U.S.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the company will do with AMC Empire 25 in New York's Time Square.

Sources: Los Angeles Times Bloomberg The Economist


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