Wanda Cinemas Rebrands as Wanda Film Holding, 2016 Profit Up 15 Percent

Positive results and a new name point to ongoing expansion for Wanda’s film business in 2017.

Wanda Cinema Line, the theatrical exhibition arm of Chinese property development giant Dalian Wanda, said it plans to change its name to Wanda Film Holding Co., Ltd., in a regulatory filing on Thursday, to better reflect their increasingly diversified business.

The name change indicates that Wanda still intends on reorganizing its entertainment assets after it shelved those plans late last year, when regulators expressed concern over the financial viability of the change.

In explaining the change, the company, which is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, said that box office revenue made up a third of total revenue for the company with the remainder going to marketing, derivative sales, and other streams in the rapidly expanding business.

Wanda Cinema Line is China’s biggest cinema chain, with a 14.5 percent share in the country’s burgeoning box office. It also separately owns Australia’s second-largest operator Hoyts Group.

While still Asia’s largest exhibitor, the new name is more fitting for a company that intends to continue to explore various areas including marketing, online services, and gaming.

In separate filings, the company said its 2016 net profit was up 15.2 percent and also pointed to expansion plans with a target of opening 80 cinemas in 2017 with an investment of about 2.0 billion yuan ($290.36 million).

The news comes a year after the company said it was consolidating its different film operations, including Legendary Entertainment, which Wanda acquired in January 2016 for US$3.5 billion, to come under its exhibition unit.

That meant plans to integrate Legendary Entertainment into its film unit were also halted. In a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange at the time the company said market conditions had been altered and a deal would not serve investors well.

Other assets that the parent company wished to bundle into a single unit include Wanda Studios Qingdao, which the company touts as “the world’s largest film and television studio”, and which is steadily opening up in phases.

Earlier this month Wanda’s $1 billion deal to buy Dick Clark Productions, the US television group behind the Golden Globes, hit a wall, with analysts laying the blame on China’s  increasingly tightening capital controls.

On Monday, John Zeng, president of Wanda Cinema Line gave a bullish appraisal of the China’s box office future, telling a crowd at CinemaCon in Las Vegas that it would continue to grow at a rate of between 15 percent and 20 percent annually.