China's Wanda Planning Two Billion-Dollar Film Deals This Year, Chairman Says

Wang Jianlin - Getty - H 2016
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Wang Jianlin - Getty - H 2016

The company's next target will be one of the "Big Six" Hollywood film studios, according to chairman Wang Jianlin.

China's richest man is escalating his historic push into Hollywood. 

Real estate and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group plans to close two billion-dollar film industry deals in the U.S. this year, Wang Jianlin, the company's billionaire chairman, told Reuters on Tuesday in an interview.

Wang said the deals will involve two non-production film companies based in the U.S. Once he completes those transactions, Wanda plans to pursue acquiring one of the "Big Six" Hollywood film studios, he added.

"My goal is to buy Hollywood companies and bring their technology and capability to China," the exec told Reuters.

Wang didn't disclose any further details about the two companies he is currently pursuing. 

In January, Wanda paid $3.5 billion for Legendary Entertainment, financiers of such global hits as Jurassic World and Godzilla, becoming the first Chinese owner of a U.S. movie studio with a track record in producing international event pictures. Wang has previously stated that he hopes to control no less than 20 percent of global box-office revenue by 2020. His conglomerate already holds more movie screens than any other exhibitor on the planet, via control or ownership of AMC Entertainment, China's largest cinema line; Australia's Hoyts; and Europe's Odeon & UCI Cinema Group.

In July, Wanda was reported to be engaged in talks with Paramount Pictures about acquiring a 49 percent minority stake in the beleaguered studio. But the possibility of that deal was made even more uncertain with Viacom's recent ouster of Philippe Dauman, who had been pursuing the stake sale in opposition to the Redstone family's wishes.

In Tuesday's interview with Reuters, Wang clarified that he would be happy to own any of the major U.S. studios, which also include 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Disney, Universal and Sony-owned Columbia.

"We are interested not only in Paramount, but all of them. If one of the Big Six would be willing to be sold to us, we would be interested," Wang said.

"Only the six are real global film companies, while the rest are not. If we are to build a real movie empire, this is a necessary step," he added.

Wang said that Wanda would begin seeking co-investment opportunities in global tentpoles in 2017.