The move is Perfect World’s first move into the exhibition sector. The Shenzhen-listed company is a leading player in online games and is in the process of scaling up its film business.
The value of the deal with resorts operator Antaeus Group, was not disclosed. Antaeus Cinema currently operates 227 complexes and 1,200 screens, mostly in smaller cities – which China classifies as ‘third tier’ and ‘fourth tier.’
That ranks it 13th among Chinese cinema groups. But its cinemas appear to have underperformed the market in terms of seat occupancy and prices.
China’s box office grew by 49% last year boosted by an exceptional combination of circumstances. These included a massive 8,027 new screens coming on stream, lifting the end of 2015 total to 31,600 according to official data.
This year box office growth has slowed to a gain of only 21% in the first half, but new cinemas continue to open.
Recently, another movie studio Alibaba Pictures Group made a similar vertical integration move, by buying a minority stake in Dadi cinema chain and in August snapping up a 61% stake in a small Hangzhou circuit for $15 million.
Earlier this year Perfect World made a splash in Hollywood with a commitment to invest between $200-500 million in Universal Pictures slate.