Dalian Wanda Group Co., the world’s biggest movie theater operator, announced on Tuesday that it has acquired a majority stake in Legendary Pictures Films LLC for $3.5 billion in cash. Wanda will be the first Chinese company to acquire a major Hollywood production company in the biggest Chinese overseas acquisition in entertainment.
The deal not only gives Wanda access to Legendary’s catalogue of movies, but access to expertise in creating more and better content for China’s expanding market. The largest film market outside of the United States, China’s box office grew 49 percent in 2015 reaching $6.37 billion. The deal also means that Legendary and Wanda can produce more joint productions, bypassing China’s state quota on Hollywood productions.
Wang Jianling, chairman of Wanda Group, announced on Tuesday that Wanda is planning an initial public offering of merged assets of Legendary and its existing production assets. Wanda Group, the world’s largest commercial real estate company, is expanding its entertainment and leisure group to include AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Australian movie theater company Hoyts Group Holdings LLC.