Wang Jianlin, the head of Wanda, said his company has also had talks about investing in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as it looks for ways to enhance its presence in the United States.
“China’s movie industry is booming at unprecedented speed,” Wang told Bloomberg. “Buying a well-known U.S. company will help our distribution overseas.”
Spokespeople for Lionsgate and MGM did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Wanda only wants to purchase a majority share in the studio, something Lionsgate is hesitant to do, according to the report.
The talks are described as being in the early stages, so they could fall apart, but it’s a sign of Wanda’s seriousness about broadening its portfolio of investments that Wang went public with his ambitions.
Wanda isn’t the only Chinese company that has been looking for ways to become more deeply involved the entertainment industry. Alibaba also reportedly was interested in acquiring Lionsgate co-chairman Mark Rachesky’s 37% stake in the studio, and representatives for the e-commerce company recently met with executives at several major studios to discuss possible collaborations.
Other Chinese players who have strengthened their U.S. profile include investment firm Fosun, which has backed former Warner Bros. studio chief Jeff Robinov’s new venture, Studio 8, and Hony Capital, which is investing in producer Robert Simonds’ new studio.
Wanda has already established a toehold in the U.S., buying AMC, the country’s second largest theater chain, in 2012 for $2.6 billion. The company also recently spent $1.2 billion to buy a Wilshire Boulevard site that will serve as the hub for Wanda’s entertainment investments. At the time, the company said the Wilshire property signaled its “first important step into Hollywood.”
Lionsgate’s hits include the “Divergent” and “Hunger Games” franchises and television shows such as “Orange is the New Black.”