AMC Turns Chinese - Beijing Conglomerate Closes a $2.6B Purchase
"The Times They Are a-Changin'" You know those movies that always predict everything will be Chinese in the future? Maybe this is the start of us really heading in that direction. A press release and announcement has confirmed today that AMC Entertainment has been bought by a conglomerate called Dalian Wanda Group Co., Ltd., simply known as just Wanda. The company is a "leading Chinese private conglomerate and China's largest investor in cultural and entertainment activities" and they have purchased all of AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6 billion dollars, with the deal closing and going through as of today. Wow.
Gerry Lopez, chief executive officer and president of AMC, comments on this announcement saying: "All of us at AMC are thrilled about our future with Wanda. It allows us to continue expanding and innovating in what is the world's largest movie market. More so, we are enthusiastic about combining AMC's leadership in the U.S. with Wanda's leadership in China, the world's fastest-growing market. We strongly believe in our shared common interests in advancing the movie industry and we feel this partnership creates one of the world's premier location-based entertainment companies." China is, indeed, a fast growing entertainment market, but I would've expected someone from the U.S. to partner, not get bought outright in full like this.
The press release (via Deadline) also confirms: Wanda will operate AMC as a wholly owned subsidiary under its existing brand while investing up to an additional US$500 million in the unit over time to fund strategic and operating initiatives. AMC will continue to control film programming and remain headquartered in the Kansas City metropolitan area, with more than 17,000 associates operating theaters in 32 states across the U.S. Wanda itself operates 94 theaters, with 805 screens, which combined with AMC's 338 theaters with 4,865 screens, makes them the world's largest global cinema owner. The true motivation behind this deal.
I remember attending movies as a young kid at my local AMC when they were just another chain trying to get Americans in for some entertainment. I'm not concerned about this deal, I just find it interesting that AMC decided to sell itself entirely to a Chinese conglomerate. A sign of the times and the world we live in? I suppose so. I'm watching AMC closely and curious to see how things change, or improve, with this purchase.
Update: Here are a few more details about what this will do for AMC, courtesy of the LA Times: Wanda "is committed to invest $450 million in renovations and upgrades at AMC's 4,865 screens over the next four years. Already, $50 million has been set aside to pay down the company's debt." Wanda's chairman Wang Jianlin explains that, "my vision is that in three or four years, the reinvestment will give AMC an edge over competitors." They also confirm that "there would be no push to play Chinese movies in AMC's theaters and that there would be 'no restrictions' on what types of movies are screened." AMC's CEO adds that, "for us it will always be about what attracts an audience... That focus doesn't change at all." Good to hear all of this.