The Chinese owner of Aston Villa Football Club now has a controlling stake in Millennium Films, for a low, low price.
Shenzhen-based and listed Recon Holding has taken a 51 percent stake in Millennium Films, producer of The Expendables series, for US$100 million, the two companies announced Thursday in a statement.
The announcement ends rumors that a deal for that amount was being negotiated, although initial speculation indicated that price was more likely for a complete buy-out of Los Angeles-based Millennium.
The price tag seems a bargain for a company that claims box office grosses since 2011 of $1.2 billion, with films including The Expendables, Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, along with Rambo in its catalog. Millennium has The Hitman’s Bodyguard with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L, Jackson coming up, along with Escobar, starring Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, and Hunter Killer, with Olympus and London star Gerard Butler, and Gary Oldman.
However, it is the strength of Millennium’s offerings in China that may have appealed most strongly to Recon. The company produced Jason Statham’s Mechanic series, which grossed double in China what it did in North America. Unconfirmed reports indicate a fourth Expendable film could shoot in China.
Recon Wenyuan Cable Co. is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in southern China, and is officially a manufacturer of cable and wiring equipment. Dr. Tony Jiantong Xia acquired a controlling stake in the company in October 2016, after leading a consortium that bought Aston Villa Football Club in May 2016, for just under $75 million. Relegated from the English Premier League, the Birmingham-based soccer team is currently in 17th place out of 24 teams in the English Championship League.
Co-founders Avi Lerner and Trevor Short will continue to serve Millennium’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively.
China deals for Hollywood properties have both hit and missed over the last 12 to 18 months. In January 2016, Dalian Wanda purchased Legendary Pictures for $3.5 billion. More recently, Huahua Media and Shanghai Media Group invested $1 billion in Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures, but denied that the investment is a move towards acquisition. However, a proposed acquisition of Voltage Pictures by an Anhui province mining firm was scuttled.