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China’s Wanda invests in Hollywood

In the midst of a series of deals between large Chinese companies and Hollywood, China’s Wanda Group has bought Dick Clark Productions. The $1 billion deal gives Wanda Group owner Wang Jianlin and his company access to a large part of the U.S. television industry. Dick Clark Productions is responsible for producing some of the largest shows in the U.S. entertainment field, including the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.

The Wanda Group had been involved in talks to buy Dick Clark Productions since late September. The deal is the first of the Wanda Group’s purchases to involve the U.S. television industry. However, the company is no stranger to purchasing U.S. entertainment property.

In January 2016, Jianlin announced that his company would be paying $3.5 billion to purchase Legendary Entertainment, a Hollywood movie studio responsible for Interstellar and Jurassic World, among other box office hits. Since 2012, the Wanda Group has owned AMC Theatres, securing the company’s title as the largest cinema chain operator in the world.

Aside from its acquisitions, the Wanda Group also made a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment in September that will allow it to influence certain big budget films produced by Sony and market them toward Chinese moviegoers. Sony Pictures’ successful film franchises include Men in Black, Resident Evil, Spider-Man and Underworld.

Jianlin has made it clear in past interviews that he wishes to eventually own at least one of Hollywood’s Big Six movie studios. This list includes 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures. Jianlin estimates that the opportunity for a purchase of that magnitude will come within the next one or two years.

Earlier this year, a letter penned by 16 members of the U.S. Congress expressed fears over what seems to be an increasing amount of foreign business acquisitions across a variety of U.S. sectors. The letter also called for the continued scrutiny of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies.

The letter warns that in the wake of the upcoming presidential transition, it “is an opportune time for the Government Accountability Office to review what has worked well, and where the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States authorities may need to be expanded, especially given the rise in state-owned enterprises and state-controlled enterprises from China and Russia, among other designated countries.”

The letter went on to express wariness over U.S. media sectors being controlled by foreign companies and whether or not issues such as these are a risk to national security.

In past interviews, however, Jianlin has claimed that the United States exports far too much media to China for foreign control to be a legitimate concern.

Last month, Alibaba Pictures struck a deal with director Steven Spielberg to produce and distribute films in China. Alibaba, which dominates the Chinese film industry, was founded by billionaire Jack Ma.

Under the deal, Ma’s company acquired a small stake in Amblin Partners, a content creation company for television and film that was co-founded by Spielberg. Alibaba will also be given a seat on Amblin’s board of directors.

With the aforementioned deals in place, China is predicted to soon be able to boast the world’s largest movie market. Currently, the title for the largest movie market is held by the United States.

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