China continued its expansion into the entertainment industry Sunday when the Wanda Group, a Chinese media conglomerate, agreed to acquire AMC Entertainment, North America’s second-largest movie theater owner, in a $2.6 billion deal.
The New York Times reports:
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The acquisition creates the world’s largest theater group, the companies said. It also represents a significant expansion of Chinese influence in the American film industry. The industry has been looking to China for a vast new reservoir of ticket buyers for Hollywood movies, while joining Chinese investors to produce films like the planned "Iron Man 3" and teaming up to build studio facilities and a new Disney theme park in China.
Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Wanda, said his goal was to own theaters covering 20 percent of the world theater market by 2020. Speaking through a translator on Sunday, Mr. Wang said his aim for the circuits was to "combine, and synergize and make them profitable."
Sunday's announcement is the second major deal this year between the North American entertainment industry and China. In February, DreamWorks Animation struck a $2 billion deal to open a studio in Shanghai under the Oriental DreamWorks brand.
The deal was inked in a ceremony that featured Katzenberg alongside Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who stopped off in Los Angeles in February on his way back to China after a series of high-level meetings at the White House, including meetings with Obama.
As previously reported by the Free Beacon, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and his studio are currently under SEC investigation for bribing Chinese officials in order to obtain access to the Chinese market.
Katzenberg is also a fundraiser for President Obama, bundling at least $1 million for Obama, including $500,000 for the president’s re-election campaign, and $2 million in contributions to outside groups aligned with the president. The relationship has raised questions of pay-to-play politics, since the Obama administration played a key role in securing the deal.