AMC Entertainment's failure to go public last year apparently eventually led Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group to purchase the American theater operator for $2.6 billion yesterday. The deal, controlled by billionaire Wang Jianlin, includes about $1.9 billion of net debt (when was the last time you went to the movie theater?).
The agreement also potentially reveals warming relations between the US and Chinese film industries--just in February, China agreed to finally open more of its movie theaters to show American films. Chinese investment in its soft power has clearly been on the rise along with its economy, but we won't necessarily be seeing Chinese films through AMC until their cinematic content organically finds a place in the global film market (in other words, they're not going to force Chinese films that are subpar only because they now own AMC).
I find this deal to be especially exciting for Chinese filmmakers who have long endured a lack of total freedom of expression in their work. Perhaps now, with this very global move in the international film market, freedom of speech and artistic expression issues will be better addressed and served. The thing is, a burgeoning economy is usually on a trajectory towards democratic values, no matter how gradual the process may seem….hopefully this is the case for China now, too.