China's Wanda Hit With Executive Resignations at Film Divisions

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Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin

Jiang Defu, general manager of Wanda Pictures, and Que Wenxiong, general manager of Wuzhou Film Distribution, both exited last Friday.

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group was hit with the simultaneous resignations of two key executives from its film divisions last week, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

Jiang Defu, general manager of Wanda Pictures, and Que Wenxiong, general manager of Wuzhou Film Distribution, both abruptly resigned last Friday. Wanda Pictures is Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin's flagship Chinese film production outfit, while Wuzhou is the group's local film distribution arm.

Bloomberg was the first to report on the exits. Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the news to THR on Wednesday but asked not to be named, citing confidentiality requirements.

Meanwhile, AMC Entertainment, Wanda's U.S.-based theater circuit, announced in a filing Tuesday that its chairman, Lincoln Zhang, has resigned from the board. AMC said Zhang is stepping down so he can take on new responsibilities at the Wanda parent company in Beijing. The U.S. theater company said its board will move "shortly" to select a new chairman from within its ranks. Zeng Maojun, president of Wanda Film Holding Co., remains on AMC's board.

Wanda declined to comment on the leadership changes both stateside and in China.

The executive ranks at Wanda's entertainment companies have been in a regular state of flux for at least a year. Last October, Jack Gao, the group's formerly high-flying senior vp, stepped down as Wanda deepened its retreat from international dealmaking.

Wanda's U.S. film studio, Legendary Entertainment, later hired former attorney Josh Grode as its new, Los Angeles-based CEO in December, filling the vacancy left by studio founder Thomas Tull nearly a year prior. In January, Legendary hired local industry veteran Jiang Wei to head up its China unit.

The sudden leadership vacancies at Wanda's top film units continue the turmoil. Wanda is currently in the process of attempting to inject Wanda Pictures, Wuzhou and other film assets into its publicly traded movie theater business, Wanda Film Holding Co. In a surprise deal last month, Wanda Group also sold a combined $1.24 billion stake in Wanda Film to former rival Alibaba Group and a state-backed investment vehicle.