India's Reliance, China's Wanda Group to Explore Cinema Projects in India, U.S.

Reliance MediaWorks - Big Cinemas
Reliance MediaWorks Big Cinemas

The Chinese conglomerate, which agreed to acquire U.S. exhibitor AMC this year, is the world's biggest movie theater owner.

NEW DELHI – Reliance ADAG and China's largest property developer and cinema owner, Dalian Wanda Group, announced late Thursday a pact to develop new cinema projects in India and the U.S.

Reliance is already significantly invested in U.S. entertainment, due to its financing of DreamWorks Studios, with which it is said to be an equal partner. The Wanda Group became the world's biggest movie theater owner this year when it acquired U.S. multiplex operator AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion.

STORY: DreamWorks Secures Additional Funding from Reliance

Without giving any financial details, the two groups said they will first develop two township projects in Mumbai and Hyderabad which will involve a combined area of about 20-million square feet. This is the first time a Chinese group will invest in India's real estate sector.

The two companies also said that Reliance MediaWorks explore possible co-operation with Wanda Group in the multiplex business in India and the United States. The Reliance ADAG conglomerate -- headed by billionaire Anil Ambani -- runs various businesses, from telecoms to entertainment, which includes diversified film services company Reliance MediaWorks.?? RMW has a network of over 550 screens, of which about half are in India, with the balance in the US, Malaysia, Nepal and the Netherlands.

RMW's other business holdings include its Burbank-based image processing facility (formerly known as Lowry Digital) and India’s largest Hollywood-benchmarked studios, RMW Studios with a total built-up area of 200,000 square feet, including eight sound stages spread across a seven-acre area within Mumbai's Film City complex. RMW also owns the Big Cinemas multiplex chain.

STORY: China's Wanda Group Says It Will Spend Tens of Billions on Entertainment

The multiplex business has recently seen a series of consolidations here: New Delhi-headquartered multiplex pioneer PVR recently became India's largest cinema chain -- with a combined 351 screens -- after acquiring Mumbai-based rival Cinemax.??

Ambani said in a statement that his group has become the “single largest trading partner between India and China.”

The new Wanda-Reliance deal marks the latest effort in India-China industry collaboration. In September, Reliance partnered with Chinese entertainment company Galloping Horse to acquire the key holdings of Digital Domain, which had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The two companies paid a reported $30.2 million for DD's assets, which included the visual effects unit, Mothership Media.

“We are now looking forward to extend our strategic partnership to the highly successful and dynamic Wanda Group, in a manner that will tremendously benefit both groups, and unlock substantial value for millions of all our stakeholders,” the tycoon added.