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Has Chinese movie's spring time come?

By Chang Jiang (People's Daily Overseas Edition)

15:43, May 28, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

For the board chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group Wang Jianlin who cherishes the aspiration of "exporting the culture," purchasing the AMC is just a start.

Recently, the Wanda Group declared that it would pursue the world's second largest cinema group, the AMC with 2.6 billion U.S. dollars. After the merger, the Wanda Group will possess both the AMC cinema chain ranking second in the world and the Wanda cinema chain ranking first in Asia, making the Wanda Group the largest cinema operator of the world. Will this merger promote the "Going Global" course of the Chinese movie?

For this question, insiders have different answers. Some believe that it will definitely help the export of Chinese movies, and some believe that it actually will help little for the Chinese movie to "Go Global." However, they all agree that it will boost the morale of China's movie industry.

On May 21, the Wanda Group held a news conference in Beijing and declared that it would purchase the globally second largest cinema group of the AMC with 2.6 billion U.S. dollars.

The AMC of the United States is the second largest cinema company of the world. In 2011, its annual income was 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, number of audiences was about 200 million, and number of employees was about 20,000. The AMC has 346 cinemas and 5,028 screens in total, including 120 IMAX screens and 2,170 3D screens. It is the largest IMAX and 3D screen operator of the world. Most cinemas of the AMC are located in central areas of large cities of North America. Of the top 50 box office cinemas of North America, 23 belong to the AMC.

According to the official website of the Wanda Group, the Wanda Cinema Chain is the largest cinema chain of Asia. It has 86 cinemas and 730 IMAX screens in China, and its box office accounts for 15 percent of the total of China. The company plans to increase its cinemas to 200 and its screens to 2,000 by 2015.

The turnover of this merger is 2.6 billion U.S. dollars, covering two parts of buying 100 percent of the AMC's shares and paying the AMC's debts. The Wanda promises that the funds put into in the operation of the AMC after the merger will not exceed 500 million U.S. dollars. The Wanda Group paid 3.1 billion U.S. dollars in total for this transaction.

The information of the Wanda Group purchasing the AMC immediately led to many hot comments among insiders and netizens. The vice general manger of the China Film Stellar Theater Chain Yan Yu believes that this merger will help the Chinese movie to "Go Global" in various ways. But a well-known movie critic Zhou Liming believes that it will practically help little for the "Going Global" of the Chinese movie.

The Wanda Group expressed during the news conference that, although it has purchased the AMC, the management board of the AMB will decide what movies will be shown and the Wanda Group will not interfere in things like that. After the Wanda purchased the AMC, things, such as whether the AMC will import Chinese movies, what movies it will import and how many it will import, will all be decided independently by the management board of the AMC according to the relevant regulations of the United States and the market.

In addition, another noticeable thing is that the Wanda Group also declared on the day that purchasing the AMC is just the first step of the group's internationalization strategy and the group is still seeking to purchase other large-scale cinema companies of Europe and the United States. The goal of the Wanda Group is to occupy about 20 percent of the total global cinema market.

Read the Chinese version: 华语片的春天来了?

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