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Warner Bros. Int’l pacts for more Chinese theaters

Multiplexes to be built in Wanda Group's future shopping malls

SHANGHAI — Warner Bros. Intl. Cinemas has signed a deal with a Chinese real estate company to develop 30 cinemas across China.

China-based exhibition deal is the second for Warner in the space of two weeks. Earlier this month, Warner Bros. Intl. agreed in principle with Guangzhou Performance Co. to build eight to 10 cinemas in southern China.

Deal will bring together domestic real estate company Wanda Group, which will invest in the construction of 30 multiplex cinemas, and WB, which will give technical support on design, as well as operate and manage the cinemas. The chain is provisionally called Warner Wanda Cinemas.

The multiplexes are to be built in Wanda Group future shopping malls. Fifteen sites have already been chosen, including the cities of Beijing, Dalian, Harbin, Nanning, Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuhan and Zhengzhou. The first, in Tianjin, was scheduled to open Sunday .

Deal reportedly calls for a total of 30 plexes in the coming years.

Agreement states that Warner Wanda Cinemas will feature the Warner Bros. shield and make use of the studio’s Looney Tunes characters.

Warners already operates a joint-venture cinema (in which it holds a minority stake) with Shanghai Paradise Co. in Shanghai’s Grand Gateway mall. New rules brought into effect at the beginning of January allow foreign exhibs to own up to 75% of cinemas in certain cities. For the rest of the country, the 49% cap still applies.

New WB multiplexes in Wuhan and Nanjing, in a joint venture with Shanghai United Circuit, are also planned, pending government approval.

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