The Wall Street Journal reports that the Dalian Wanda Group wants a Hollywood studio to join a joint venture meant to build a massive studio and grow film and other media investments in the region. This has been part of a weekend in which stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman, moguls like Harvey Weinstein, and agents including UTA’s Jeremy Zimmer and WME’s Mike Simpson attended a launch party for Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin to unveil plans to spend up to $8.2 billion on an entertainment center in Qingdao he says will include a theme park and the world’s largest film studio. Wang Jianlin is reportedly China’s richest man, and WSJ reports he has made deals with four top talent agencies to attract talent that will be part of his plan to make 30 films each year.
We will have to see how this works out. India’s Reliance Entertainment made first-look deals five years ago with a coterie of stars and their companies to generate films with Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Nicolas Cage, Brett Ratner, Chris Columbus, Jay Roach, Jim Carrey, Julia Roberts, Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment. Each was a seven-figure commitment from Reliance, which has nothing to show for its investment.
Wanda’s proposed investment dwarfs the $800 million Seven Stars Media Private Equity fund launched early last year by Sun Media Group’s Bruno Wu and Harvest Fund Management to back entertainment ventures in China and globally. Hollywood is paying attention because of the vast potential of showing its films in China, which is building theaters at a strong rate for a pop culture-hungry population.