Wanda Cinemas, Mtime Sign Strategic Partnership to Hawk Movie Merchandise (EXCLUSIVE)

China’s largest theater group, Wanda Cinemas, has signed a deal with online movie ticketing service and media company Mtime to co-develop new businesses intended to drive online customers to physical stores.

Terms of the pact were not disclosed, but the agreement comes after Mtime announced in July it will build merchandising centers in Wanda’s theaters. As part of the strategic partnership, Wanda will make an investment in Mtime.

It’s part of a buzzy term in global business called O20, or online to offline commerce, that’s intended to allow retail to happen seamlessly via the Internet and in brick and mortar stores. Think of it as the model behind businesses such as the Apple Store.

Mtime and Wanda hope the deal can marry the movie ticketer and media company’s online prowess with the theater chain’s thousands of locations.

The reach of the partners is impressive. Wanda has the leading market share of any Chinese exhibitor and also owns the U.S.-based AMC Theatres. Mtime commands more than 160 million online and mobile users, and serves as a critical movie promotional tool, hosting advertisements as well as selling tickets. A recent New York Times profile noted that the service has also expanded into being a key source of movie news and showtimes, dubbing Mtime, “effectively Fandango, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo Movies rolled into one.”

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