Dalian Wanda Group expresses interest in Lionsgate, MGM

Dalian Wanda Group expresses interest in Lionsgate, MGM
Wanda Chairman Wang Jianlin appears at an event in Beijing last year. The billionaire told Bloomberg News on Dec. 1 that Dalian Wanda Group is interested in buying control of Lionsgate and investing in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (Ng Han Guan / Associated Press)

Beijing-based Dalian Wanda Group Co. aims to expand its presence in Hollywood.

The company, which acquired AMC Theatres for $2.6 billion in 2012, now reportedly wants to buy a controlling stake in Lionsgate and invest in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

"Many people come knock at my door, but Wanda is only interested in the big players and we want control," Wang Jianlin, the company's billionaire chairman, told Bloomberg. "China's movie industry is booming at unprecedented speed. Buying a well-known U.S. company will help our distribution overseas."

Shares for Lionsgate, the Santa Monica-based studio behind the popular "Hunger Games" franchise, rose about 3% on Monday. The studio declined to comment Monday.

News of the talks come as Wanda continues to strengthen its ties in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Wanda purchased the former Robinsons-May department store site on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The company also announced it would take a 90% stake in a planned 89-story skyscraper along the Chicago River. 

Dalian Wanda Group isn't alone in its attempt to make Hollywood connections. Because China is the world's second largest film market,  Chinese companies have looked to studios to increase their stakes in the industry.

In October, Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba Group, visited major studios for a series of sit-downs with high-level executives.  Ma was said to be considering taking a 37% stake in Lionsgate.

But deals between large Chinese companies and major studios haven't necessarily come to fruition.

Huayi Bros. Media Corp., a Beijing film production company, was in talks this year to invest as much as $150 million in Studio 8, the film company led by former Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov. But negotiations reportedly fell apart, leading Huayi Bros. Media Corp. to invest in its own U.S. subsidiary.

Staff writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.

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