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Wang Jianlin's Deal For Legendary Shows He Means Business When It Comes To Film

China’s richest man put his money where his mouth is in buying a major American film production house, observers say. Putting it with cinema chain he owns and film studio complex he’s building in Qingdao and you have a vertically integrated film business like Hollywood of old.

Wang Jianlin has long been one of China’s most powerful businessmen, a former military man who made his fortune in real estate. Now the richest man in China is poised to become one of the most influential players in Hollywood.

The chairman of Dalian Wanda Group’s recent US$3.5 billion acquisition of Legendary Entertainment – one of the US production companies behind The Dark Knight, Jurassic World and Godzilla movies – gives 61-year-old Wang a new level of influence over Hollywood’s cultural landscape and his country’s ability to project “soft power” around the world.Legendary Entertainment has produced major hits such as 2008’s The Dark Knight.

“We have to have a position in the global industry,” Wang said at a news conference to formally announce the Legendary purchase. “And a few American movie companies have these commanding heights of the movie industry in the world. We want to change this situation and the landscape.”

He’s been working hard in recent years to do that, scooping up a trove of other media and entertainment businesses. In 2015, Wanda acquired a 20 per cent stake in Spanish soccer club Atletico Madrid for US$52 million, bought Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media for US$1.2 billion and purchased Florida’s World Triathlon for US$900 million.

Wang has also steadily built his presence in Los Angeles. In 2014, his company bought the site of the former Robinsons-May department store in Beverly Hills for US$420 million, and has plans for a mixed-use development there. He’s also donated US$20 million to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for its new film museum.