China’s most ambitious entertainment company adds to a portfolio that already includes AMC Entertainment and Legendary Pictures.
China’s Dalian Wanda Group is acquiring Dick Clark Productions, the company behind the Golden Globe Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and So You Think You Can Dance, for “approximately $1 billion,” the company announced Thursday.
The announcement, long in the offing, marks the property-to-entertainment conglomerate’s first foray into television production and its latest major expansion into Hollywood. “It’s a big step forward in expanding Wanda’s map in the entertainment industry,” the company said in a statement.
“Obtaining top television production rights brings about complementary and coordinated development for Wanda’s current focuses on the film, tourism, and sports industries,” the Chinese firm said in the statement.
“We are excited to partner with such an iconic company and look forward to supporting the management team as they continue to build the company and expand upon its enormous legacy,” Xiaoma Lu, CEO of the Wanda Investment Company, added.
The eye-popping price tag is almost three times the $370 million paid by Guggenheim Partners in 2012 for Dick Clark Productions (DCP), which at the time was well beyond what other bidders were apparently willing to pay.
Wanda snapped up Legendary Entertainment, producer of blockbusters including Jurassic World and Pacific Rim, for a whopping $3.5 billion earlier this year. Prior to that Wanda used its AMC Entertainment to buy European exhibitor Odeon & UCI Cinemas for $1.2 billion.
In September Wanda said it it would market Sony Pictures’ films, and co-finance upcoming releases of Sony Corp.’s film unit in China. More recently the company established a $750M development fund to attract Hollywood productions to China’s Qingdao Movie Metropolis complex.
The company’s Hollywood asset buying binge is far from over. Wanda CEO Wang Jianlin has not been shy about his desire to purchase a major stake in one of the so-called “big six” Hollywood studios. Wanda was in talks to buy a 49 percent stake in Paramount Pictures this summer, but it fell through at the last minute.
On Wednesday, Wang told The Hollywood Reporter he plans to set up a multibillion-dollar investment fund to inject capital into all of the big six studios.
“I wanted to acquire one of the big six, but whether we can is a different story — it’s uncertain,” Wang told the publication. “I might as well start from wherever I can, such as through investment with all six.”
“We will continue to work on a potential acquisition. But it won’t hurt to start by doing what we can. Participating via investment seems like a wise choice for the time being.”
Wang’s voracious appetite for Hollywood assets drew the attention of 16 members of the U.S. Congress in late September, who began calling for greater scrutiny of China’s investments in American entertainment companies. A letter written by the lawmakers cited Wanda’s purchase of Legendary and AMC and expressed “growing concerns” about the potential for Chinese censorship and propaganda in Hollywood movies.