China's Wanda Group Says It Will Spend Tens of Billions on Entertainment
UPDATED: With $500 million in store for AMC renovations, chairman says company has earmarked $30 billion for acquisitions and investment in entertainment.
The Dalian Wanda Group has come to Los Angeles with an open wallet.
Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the group -- which announced the close of its $2.6 billion purchase of the AMC Theater Group -- said Tuesday at a news conference at the AMC complex in Century City that it plans to spend an additional $500 million renovating the chain, one of the largest in the United States.
But that's not all, said Wang, who flew from Beijing for the occasion.
Wanda plans to spend $30 billion to invest and make acquisitions around cinema, hotels and department stores outside China. Wang said that while he's in Los Angeles, he will meet with five "major movie companies" to discuss possible joint ventures for film production or discuss starting a fund for film production.
The move comes after a line of investments Wanda has made in the entertainment sector since 2005.
"We are very pleased to have completed the acquisition of AMC and begin this new chapter in Wanda’s international development," Wang said in a news release announcing the closing of the purchase. "We now look forward to working with AMC’s CEO [and chairman] Gerry Lopez and his team to invest in and build on the company’s widely recognized brand and the incomparable entertainment experience AMC offers to its millions of customers.”
The Wanda Group already operates the largest theater circuit in China.
At Tuesday's news conference, Imax chairman Rich Gelfond said his company is working closely with Wanda to expand the number of Imax screens in Wanda's theaters in China from 50 to 90 during the next two years.
AMC, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., employs about 18,500 people and owns 346 theaters. It is not believed the transaction will affect employment levels at the company.
“All of us at AMC are thrilled about our future with Wanda," Lopez said in the release announcing the deal's closing. "It allows us to continue expanding and innovating in what is the world’s largest movie market. More so, we are enthusiastic about combining AMC’s leadership in the U.S. with Wanda’s leadership in China, the world’s fastest-growing market."