You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China’s Wanda in Final Talks to Buy Majority Stake in Legendary Entertainment

Chinese entertainment giant Wanda Group is in final negotiations to buy a majority stake in Legendary Entertainment, the Hollywood studio run by Thomas Tull that has built a substantial, multi-genre content operation from a base of fantasy and gamer franchises, according to an individual familiar with the situation.

Talks to complete the deal have not concluded but the Chinese company would buy out the stake of two other investors in a deal that values the company at between $3 billion and $4 billion, said the individual, who declined to be named when speaking about confidential talks.

The deal would give the Chinese conglomerate — which owns Wanda Cinemas, AMC Entertainment and vast real estate holdings — another major foothold in the U.S., beyond AMC, the No. 2 theater chain in North America. The deal would leave Legendary founder and CEO Thomas Tull in charge of the company and with a substantial minority ownership interest, the source said.

While many Chinese-American partnerships in the entertainment industry have been announced only to later fall apart, Wanda’s earlier success in acquiring AMC makes its circling of the film company appear more likely to bear fruit. The Chinese conglomerate’s owner, Wang Jianlin, is that nation’s wealthiest man and is said to be intent on spreading his influence across industries ranging from sports, to hospitality, to theme parks and entertainment.

Wanda clearly has the financial power to pull off the deal. One of its subsidiaries, Wanda Cinema Line, is listed on the Chinese stock market and recently had a market capitalization of $20.3 billion, some nine times larger than that of AMC. The company also recently announced plans to give stock market listings to two of its movie subsidiaries in production and distribution.

Legendary previously has had multiple flirtations, and a few marriages, with Chinese companies. The Hong Kong-based exhibition chain Golden Harvest acquired a small minority stake (3.33%) in 2010 for $25 million. It sold the stake a year later for $30 million. Later the same year, Legendary was in advanced talks with Hong Kong construction firm PY Engineering to be the principal Chinese financier of the studio, Legendary East. Though the deal fell through, Legendary East is in post production on its first film,  the $150 million  “The Great Wall,” helmed by standout director  Zhang Yimou.

In another move to share the risk on its big budget pictures, Legendary in September announced that China’s Tencent Pictures would take an equity stake in Legendary’s “Warcraft.” The film is based on the video game “World of Warcraft” and is set to debut on June 10.

Variety first reported news of a possible Wanda/Legendary deal last month, with Reuters breaking the news of the pending transaction roughly a month later, on Monday. Spokesmen for Legendary and Wanda declined to comment.

Japan’s SoftBank, which is understood to be selling its stake in the transaction, also declined to comment.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • FROZEN 2 - In Walt Disney

    Will 'Frozen 2' Heat Up a Frosty Box Office?

    How enduring is “Frozen” fever? Six years after audiences were first introduced to Princesses Anna and Elsa, Disney is returning to Arendelle this weekend with the big-screen debut of “Frozen 2. The original made history as the highest-grossing animated movie ever, raking in $1.2 billion worldwide in 2013. This time around, the powerful sisters are [...]

  • Nederland, Amsterdam, 09-10-2019-Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director

    IDFA Artistic Director Orwa Nyrabia on Documentary Cinema's Bright Future

    “Where do you want to start,” Orwa Nyrabia says, with a smile. “I’m in full festival mode!” Just a year into the job and Nyrabia, IDFA’s artistic director, can’t wait to get stuck into his second edition. The festival’s founder, Ally Derks, who bowed out in 2017 after 30 years at the helm, was a [...]

  • Timothee Chalamet poses for photographers at

    Timothée Chalamet to Make London Stage Debut With Eileen Atkins in '4000 Miles'

    Timothee Chalemet is set to take to the London stage for the first time, appearing next spring in Amy Herzog’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “4000 Miles.” Matthew Warchus will direct the production at The Old Vic, which will also star Eileen Atkins (“The Crown,” “Gosford Park”). The play opens April 2020. It turns on the story [...]

  • CJ-CGV Cinemas

    CJ CGV Sells $286 Million Stake in Asian Cinema Businesses

    CJ CGV, the Korean movie theaters giant, is to raise $286 million from the sale of a slice of its Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese businesses. The company, which has its own stock market listing and is affiliated to the CJ Group, which includes CJ E&M and CJ Entertainment, said this week that it had sold [...]

  • Taiwanese director Fu Yue

    China, Taiwan in Film Awards Face-off With Roosters, Horses Scheduled on Same Day

    Despite rising political antagonism, China and Taiwan have for years been able to put aside their differences for a night of shared glitz and glamour at the annual Taipei-based Golden Horse Awards, known as Asia’s Oscars. But with cross-strait relations at a nadir, that’s about to change.  Chinese-language cinema is set for a showdown the [...]

  • Julia Roberts Harriet Tubman

    Julia Roberts Was Suggested to Play Harriet Tubman, 'Harriet' Screenwriter Says

    Cynthia Erivo has received widespread acclaim for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ biopic “Harriet.” But according to the movie’s screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard, Julia Roberts — yes, white woman Julia Roberts — was once suggested by a studio executive to play the role. In a Q&A for “Harriet” studio Focus Features as [...]

  • Atlantics

    Variety Names 10 Directors to Watch for 2020

    Before film critics start summing up the present year at the movies with a deluge of Top 10 lists, Variety gazes into the medium’s future by announcing its annual 10 Directors to Watch — a lineup of filmmaking talents who’ve stood out on the recent festival circuit, or whose movies will soon be hitting screens [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content