Congressman seeks Department of Justice review of Wang Jianlin's Hollywood purchases

A U.S. congressional backlash against China’s growing investment in Hollywood appears to be gaining steam.

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) on Thursday asked the Department of Justice to review Hollywood investments by Chinese media and real estate conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in order to mitigate “foreign propaganda influence over American media.” 

In a statement, Wanda said it will “continue to comply with all applicable US Law in connection with its media and entertainment investments in the United States including...making the appropriate filings with the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.”

Wanda, run by billionaire Wang Jianlin, has been rapidly expanding in Hollywood. The company in 2012 bought movie theater chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion and this year acquired film producer Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion. It is now in talks to buy Dick Clark Productions in a deal that would value the Golden Globe Awards production company at $1 billion. 

Wang has stated his desire to acquire one of the six major Hollywood studios.

In a letter to John Carlin, head of the Justice Department's national security division, Culberson cited Wang’s stated goal to “change the world where rules are set by foreigners” and his company’s ties to the Chinese government. 

“This has profound implications for American media controlled by this type of Chinese company leadership,” said Culberson, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.  

His letter also referenced Hunan TV, the Chinese broadcaster that last year signed a pact with Santa Monica studio Lionsgate to invest in movies. 

Culberson joins a growing chorus of lawmakers and film industry observers who have expressed concerns about the rising clout of China, which heavily censors movies for its population.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has said it would consider whether the government should broaden its reviews of investments from foreign countries. 

The federal government has the authority to block transactions that threaten national security. The lawmakers want to expand the scope of its probes to address so-called “soft power” institutions, such as media companies.  

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ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder


UPDATES:

3:31 p.m.: This article was updated to include a comment from Wanda.

The article was originally published at 2:45 p.m.

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