Hollywood experienced another major tipping of the scales in economic power as the Chinese conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group, purchased the American movie studio Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion. This now makes China’s richest man and CEO of the conglomerate, a major player in Hollywood.
Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the group, worth approximately US$27 billion himself has stated that his intentions with the studio are to package the studio with existing film production assets in China, then take that merged operation and sell shares in an initial public offering.
While many in Hollywood may be dismayed at what appears to be an outsider coming in and buying up studios, this is hardly the first time this kind of shake up has occurred. In the 21st century, this is merely a reflection of China’s own rise to economic power, and the massive financial might of its industrial and consumer infrastructure. However, Hollywood has already experienced a similar takeover, late in the 20th century. During the 80s, Japan was the economic powerhouse of Asia, and moved to purchase Columbia Pictures in 1989, for US$3.4 billion, which, in adjusted dollars, equals nearly US$6.5 billion in 2016.
Wang’s move to purchase Legendary Entertainment is consistent with his own global cinematic ambitions. While he has been building a massive studio infrastructure in his home country of China, he has made the Dalian Wanda Group one of the biggest theatrical distributors in the world, with the purchase of AMC Entertainment for US$2.6 billion in 2012. This simply means that the conglomerate now has stake not just in cinematic distribution, but production as well.
And Legendary Entertainment is a high profile mainstream studio, as the company’s output includes popular mainstream hits like Jurassic World, the “Dark Knight” trilogy, as well as critical darlings like Crimson Peak and Straight Outta Compton.
How this will affect the studio and its output it too early to say at this stage, but for now, the group is giving the usual assurances that daily operations will remain unaffected and business as usual will continue for the studio and its projects.