After purchasing AMC Entertainment for $2.6 billion back in September, the Dalian Wanda Group has its sights set on pushing further into the American film business.
Chairman Wang Jianlin confirmed that they are moving toward a deal with major North American studios that could result in a new co-production studio between China and America. Plans are for productions to be under way by the summer of 2016 at Wanda's planned production facility based out of northeastern China.
Additionally, the Dalian Wanda Group plans to spend $500 million renovating AMC's 4,865 screens at 338 theaters in the immediate future. Wang confirmed that 60 percent of the theaters have now converted to digital projection as part of those planned upgrades. He also reports that AMC will turn a profit of $20 million to $30 million this year, a significant turn-around from the chain's recent debt-laden history.
In China, Wanda operates 5,900 screens (all digital). They aim to reach $32 billion in revenue by 2015.
Monday (12/3) Update: 20th Century Fox confirms today that Life of Pi performed significantly better over the weekend than already estimated on Sunday. The Ang Lee-helmed pic took in $13.77 million for a new cume of $40 million.
Sunday (12/2) Update: 20th Century Fox estimates that Life of Pi grossed another $11 million in China during its second weekend, down just 15 percent from its strong debut last week. That would put the Chinese cume at $38.5 million.
Ang Lee's native Taiwan saw the film increase an impressive 47 percent over its opening to $2.58 million this weekend and a tally of nearly $6 million there.
Monday Update: 20th Century Fox reports that Life of Pi actually earned $16.1 million in China during its debut frame. 400 theaters were not included in the estimate that was released on Sunday.
Sunday Update: Life of Pi is off to a great start in China. 20th Century Fox estimates that Taiwan native Ang Lee's drama already has $10.5 million in the bank from 4,500 3D screens.
China Lion Film reports that Back to 1942 opened to $100,000 from 20 locations over the weekend during its North American debut.
The film, based on an overlooked Chinese famine that caused the death of 7 million people in 1942, stars Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins.
The Huayi Brothers production company came to an agreement with 30 theater chains this weekend regarding director Feng Xiaogang's Back to 1942. The company had been in a dispute with the chains over the appropriation of box office revenue shares for the film.
As part of the new agreement, Huayi will claim 43 percent of box office receipts while theater chains will claim 57 percent if the gross is less than 300 million yuan ($47 million). Should the gross exceed 300 million yuan, theater chains will have the right to a 55 percent share and the remainder will go to Huayi.
In a rare move, Chinese studio Bona Film Group has secured a $20 million credit line through East West Bank in an effort to finance Chinese films with money borrowed from the United States. East West Bank has a history of lending to individual Chinese productions in the past, however, this marks the first time they have provided a loan for multiple Chinese film productions.