The Future of Hollywood Blockbusters Moves Even Closer to China

Wanda Group’s purchase of Legendary Entertainment solidifies a push eastward in the works for years.

The future of American blockbusters has long been in China, where growing business relationships and a booming moviegoing audience have made it more possible than ever for films like Furious 7 and Transformers: Age of Extinction to make box-office killings. Now that bright future has gotten a lot more formal: China’s Dalian Wanda Group, the country’s largest private-property developer and theater-chain owner, has bought a 100 percent stake in Legendary Entertainment, the studio behind recent franchise efforts like Pacific Rim and Godzilla.

It’s the first time that a movie studio capable of making movies of Legendary’s size has come under Chinese ownership, and the largest foreign acquisition ever by a Chinese entertainment company, according to The Hollywood Reporter. C.E.O. Thomas Tull will remain in charge of day-to-day operations, and he said in a press conference that Wanda would not exercise any control over Legendary’s productions. “I don’t think you’ll see a shift in us trying to make Legendary films fit more into the marketplace here,” he said, as quoted in the Reporter. “It just so happens that the movies we make already do very well in China. If we were trying to reverse engineer that, I think I would feel much less comfortable.”

Like most other American studios, Legendary has gone out of its way for years to circumvent China’s strict quota on foreign films, establishing the joint production effort Legendary East in 2013. The effort is usually worth it; China is estimated to surpass North America as the world’s largest film market next year, and the country has an appetite for the expensive tentpole projects that can be gambles in North America but recoup overseas. See:Terminator: Genisys, which made $113 million at the Chinese box office and turned a profit while struggling to $89 million in North America. Or Legendary’s own Pacific Rim, which eked past the $100 million mark at home but was the fifth-biggest film of the year in China, a sign of progress that has director Guillermo del Torostill stoking hope for a sequel. If anything, the Legendary-Wanda deal makes that much more likely.

Elsewhere in America-to-China business deals, Grindr has sold a majority share to Chinese gaming group Beijing Kunlun Tech Company. It’s not just the future of movies that’s in China, it seems.

This article was found in Vanity Fair.