Sat, Sep 24, 2016 - Page 10 News List

Wanda, Sony team up for multiple big-budget films

AP, BEIJING

China’s Dalian Wanda Group Co (大連萬達集團) and Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group have formed a partnership to cooperate on multiple big-budget movies, marking another step into the global film industry by the Chinese conglomerate.

Wanda, which already owns AMC Theaters chain and bought Legendary Entertainment LLC for US$3.5 billion in January, said it would both invest in Sony productions and strive to highlight China in those films.

“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,” the group said in a statement yesterday.

Jack Gao (高群耀), Wanda’s head of international investment and operations, said Wanda would continue to seek alliances with other content companies and closer relationships with leading media firms.

The statement did not name the films involved, but trade magazine Deadline reported possible investment and promotional cooperation for Passengers, the sci-fi love story starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt being released later this year in the US; a reboot of Jumanji due next year with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black; and a Smurfs film.

Legendary Entertainment is to begin production next year of the first live-action Pokemon movie, called Detective Pikachu.

Hollywood has been drawn to China by the nation’s deep-pocketed financiers and its box office that is now the world’s second biggest. A quota on foreign films allows just 34 a year to show in Chinese theaters on a revenue-sharing basis, but the financial conditions improve vastly for Chinese-foreign coproductions.

Wanda has also been expanding its share of global box office, with AMC recently buying European cinema chain Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group, making it the largest movie theater operator in the world.

Originally a property and cinema giant, Wanda has also expanded into sports, becoming a top-tier sponsor of FIFA in a deal that runs through the 2030 World Cup, for which China is considered likely to bid.

Wanda has also purchased Swiss firm Infront Sports & Media, Tampa and Florida-based World Triathlon Corp, along with acquiring a 20 percent stake in Spanish football team Atletico Madrid.

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