China's Wanda Cinema Line Rebrands, Reveals Profit Up 15 Percent for 2016

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Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin

The company also said it plans to spend about $290 million to open 80 new cinemas in 2017.

Wanda Cinema Line, the theatrical exhibition arm of Chinese real estate and entertainment giant Dalian Wanda Group, revealed late last week that it is changing its name to Wanda Film Holding.

The company, headed by China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, said the new brand will better reflect the breadth of the subsidiary's activities in the movie business, which now include much more than just exhibition. Wanda Cinema Line/Wanda Film Holding acquired online film marketing and merchandising firm Mtime for $350 million last year.

In a separate filing, Wanda Film Holding said its 2016 net profit climbed 15.2 percent, and that further expansion to its already massive exhibition footprint is coming this year. Wanda Film plans to spend about 2 billion yuan ($290 million) to open 80 cinemas across China in 2017. The company says its exhibition operations currently account for 14.5 percent of China's total box office.

The name change also may suggest that Wanda Group still intends to concentrate its film assets under Wanda Cinema Line/Wanda Film Holding, which is listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange.

Last year, Wanda attempted to merge its film production and distribution businesses, including Burbank Calif.-based Legendary Entertainment, with the publicly traded exhibition arm. But after pushback from regulators, Wanda withdrew the plan, saying market conditions had changed and the merger wouldn't be fair to investors. The company said Legendary needed to prove that it could generate profits on its own, but that the consolidation plan would be revisited at a later date.

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