Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group widened its stake in Hollywood Friday, announcing a partnership with Sony Pictures that will give it some creative control over future Sony films.

Wanda, which is led by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, will invest an undisclosed amount in Sony Pictures and “highlight the China element in the films in which it invests,” the company said in a statement quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

“In the past, the partnership between a Chinese company and a Hollywood mainstream studio was mostly limited to small investment in a single film, and the Chinese company was a passive investor in both content and investment amount,” it said. “The alliance will help strengthen Wanda’s power to influence the global film industry, and set a good precedent for Chinese film producers in their international investment.”

The deal grants the Culver City-based studio better access to a vast Chinese market hungry for action-packed blockbusters such as its “Spider-Man” movies, according to The Times. And it hands Wanda more clout in Hollywood.

Earlier this year, Wanda acquired Legendary Entertainment, the Hollywood production company behind “The Dark Knight,” “Jurassic World” and “Godzilla” — for $3.5 billion. It already owns the AMC theater chain and has agreed to buy Carmike Cinemas of Columbus, Georgia, which would make a Chinese company the biggest cinema operator in the United States. according to The Times.

Wanda also aims to acquire a 49 percent stake in Paramount Pictures, although that deal appears less certain, The Times reported.

“The Chinese market for Hollywood films continues to boom, and this alliance gives a huge boost to our ability to connect directly with its audiences,” said Sony Pictures Chairman Tom Rothman.

China’s Hollywood ambitions have raised red flags in Washington, according to The Times. Last week, 16 members of Congress signed  a letter calling for increased scrutiny over China’s involvement in American films, citing “growing concerns” over Chinese efforts to exert “propaganda controls on American media.”

—City News Service

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