Wanda Cinema Line To Acquire 1.9 Percent Stake In Bona Film Group

The deal will see new Bona Cinemas become part of Wanda’s rapidly expanding global theater empire.

Bona’s Yu Dong (left) and Wanda Cinema Line’s Zeng Maojun.

Wanda Cinema Line,  China’s biggest exhibitor, announced Monday that it has signed a framework agreement to invest 300 million yuan ($43.51 million) for a 1.9 percent stake in Bona Film Group.

New Bona cinemas — including both newly constructed and newly purchased cinemas — will now become a part of Wanda Cinema Line, according to the agreement.

Wanda Cinema Line — which recently announced it was rebranding as Wanda Film Holding — will also take over any Bona cinemas that are currently tied up in agreements with other companies when those deals expire.

In addition to the cinema alliance, the two companies also agreed to cooperate on advertising and film investments, according to the announcement.

Wanda has been rapidly expanding its assets and capability in the entertainment industry in recent years buying up overseas cinema chains and said earlier this year it planned to spend about RMB 2 billion (US$290 million) to open 80 cinemas across China in 2017.

The company, headed by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, has a stated goal of owning 20 percent of the world’s movie screens. Beijing-based distributor and producer Bona Film Group currently operates 41 theaters with 336 screens across the country.

In February, Bona Film Group. signed a 30-theater deal with IMAX, making the distribution company one of IMAX’S top five exhibitor partners in China.

The news comes days after Beijing-based distributor and producer Bona Film Group inched a step further towards relisting on China’s A-share market this week, just over a year after it retreated from the NASDAQ.

Earlier this month, John Zeng, president of Wanda Cinema Line/Wanda Film Holding, told local media the company also has plans to launch its own video streaming website this year.

— Additional reporting by Belinda Zhang.