China’s Wanda Group Fails to Fund Hawk Koch and Mark Gordon’s ‘Arc of Justice’

Entertainment conglomerate continues to get caught up in China’s regulatory crackdown

Wang Jianlin Dalian Wanda China
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Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has failed to deliver the financing for “Arc of Justice,” a drama produced by Hawk Koch and Mark Gordon, TheWrap has learned.

The film was set to star David Oyelowo as a doctor charged with murder in 1925 Detroit who was defended by the NAACP and attorney Clarence Darrow (Russell Crowe). Jose Padilha was lined up to direct based on the book “Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age” by Kevin Boyle. Rodney Barnesa and Max Borenstein adapted the screenplay.

A Wanda representative did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

“Arc of Justice” is the latest Hollywood project to get caught up in China’s recently formalized crackdown on foreign investment, which specifically targeted the sports and entertainment industries. Over the last few months, China has heavily restricted cross-border investment, making it much harder for Chinese companies to get cash out of the country in order to make those purchases. As a result, planned megadeals like Wanda’s $1 billion purchase of Dick Clark Productions fell by the wayside.

The Chinese government provided more specifics on its regulatory tightening last month, and did not distinguish between long-term equity investments in entertainment companies, such as Wanda’s $3.5 billion purchase of Legendary Entertainment last year, or short-term slate financing arrangements. John Burke, a partner at Akin Gump who leads the firm’s entertainment group, told TheWrap last month that it looks like both are a no-go for now — which would be reflected in the “Arc of Justice” move.

“I think this is a total shutdown,” he said. “Until this actual announcement came out, people were still hopeful. Maybe not optimistic, but hopeful that some companies could still get investments approved. But now …”