There’s good chance that your local movie theater will soon be owned by a large, Chinese conglomerate. This weekend, Dalian Wanda Group announced that it would pay $2.6 billion to purchase AMC Entertainment, America’s second largest cinema chain. It would be the most expensive foreign takeover yet by a private Chinese company, a summer blockbuster for the mergers and acquisitions world.
For those prone to anti-China hysteria, this all might sound vaguely menacing (First they came for our factories, then they came for our Kevin James vehicles…). To others, it might simply sound a bit backwards. After all, China’s domestic box office earnings are on the upswing, growing faster than Hollywood’s catalog of comic book sequels. In the United States, theater revenues have essentially been stagnant for a decade as attendance has steadily dropped. From a strictly financial point of view, there isn’t much reason for a Chinese company to start snapping up American multiplexes.
But Dalian Wanda isn’t buying itself higher profits, at least in the short run. Rather, it’s buying an education. China plans to massively expand its own film industry in the coming years. But even more importantly, it would like to expand its cultural influence by becoming as good at producing and exporting entertainment as it is computers and phones. Much as the country’s manufacturers evolved by co-opting technology and techniques from abroad, its movie business is apparently looking to leap forward with some aid from America.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]