When rumours surfaced late last year that the Dalian Wanda Group were looking to buy Legendary Pictures, many insiders dismissed it as wishful thinking. The Chinese conglomerate already made itself the world’s biggest cinema operator in 2012 when it purchased AMC Entertainment Holdings, and now the company has become a major player in the film industry.
Speaking at a press conference in Beijing on, Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin made the announcement that cumulates years of searching for a suitable studio.
“Wanda Cinema already has made tremendous development in China, but it isn’t enough. Movies are global, and our company certainly wants to add our voice to the world film market.”
The Middle Kingdom has become the second largest marketplace for big studio movies, Star Wars The Force Awakens launched to more than $53 million over the weekend, breaking even more records in its wake. Even though only a select few US movies are allowed to be released in China each year, the importance of the Middle Kingdom can make or break a franchise. The recent Terminator reboot was deemed something of a flop with limp US takings, a strong showing in China made the movie a modest hit. Similarly, the Legendary produced Pacific Rim made more in China than it did domestically, even though the sequel is ‘on hold’ this latest development might see it back into production.
Thomas Tull is expected to remain in his existing role, and he was keen to address concerns that the new management would cause a radical change.
“Frankly, we make movies that we want to see, and thankfully they work here in China.”
Legendary already have a partnership with the China Film Co, so in many ways, the deal makes good business sense to strengthen these alliances.