Wanda Cinemas announced plans to buy Mtime.com, China’s leading movie e-commerce, news and ticketing portal with 160 monthly unique visitors, to forge a bigger presence in digital entertainment. The deal, announced Wednesday, is valued at $350 million.
According to the announcement, Wanda Cinemas and Mtime will integrate their resources and businesses to reach Chinese consumers to provide “one-stop marketing solutions” for film studios and other media companies.
Mtime.com has merchandise rights from studios including Disney, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros.’ DC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, with over 800 different product lines, and claims to operate the second-largest film database in the world with info, news and reviews. The company is also one of the biggest movie ticket sellers in the Middle Kingdom, representing 90% of the movie theaters in 500 Chinese cities.
The acquisition continues Wanda’s aggressive M&A streak — including buying Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in January. In 2012, Wanda paid $2.6 billion for AMC Theatres, which earlier this month announced a $1.2 billion deal for Odeon and UCI Cinemas Group, Europe’s largest cinema chain. AMC also is bidding to acquire Carmike Cinemas, upping its offer this week to $1.2 billion.
In addition, Wanda is in talks to acquire a 49% stake in Paramount Pictures, even as a fight boils over control of parent company Viacom. The Chinese entertainment giant is on pace to spend more than $30 billion on acquisitions in 2016.
Last summer, Wanda entered into a merchandising agreement with Mtime, under which it took a 20% equity stake in the website. With the acquisition, Wanda is buying out the remaining shares of Mtime from other investors including Fidelity Growth Partners, CBC Capital, Tiger Global Management and Eight Roads Ventures.
Under the terms of the deal, Mtime.com will continue as an independent brand and Kelvin Hou Kai will remain CEO.
“The resources owned by Wanda Cinemas and Mtime.com can well complement each other,” John Zeng, president of Wanda Cinemas, said in announcing the deal. “Wanda Cinemas is China’s largest theater operator with over 60 million members and numerous film IP from China and abroad. The online resources and technologies Mtime.com has can help Wanda further activate the potential and power of the ‘ecological moviegoing platform.'”
Established in 2005, Wanda Cinemas operates 320 theaters in China, Australia and New Zealand with 2,789 total screens. The exhibitor in 2015 held 14% of China’s box-office market share with grosses of 6.3 billion yuan (about $945 million).