Sony Pictures, Dalian Wanda Group to Set Strategic Film Alliance

Deep-pocketed Chinese investors will partner on specific film franchises

Dalian Wanda Group will continue its Hollywood invasion via an upcoming strategic alliance with Sony Pictures Entertainment, TheWrap has learned.

Wanda will invest in key film franchises that will be announced within the coming weeks, one individual familiar with the deal said. In return, SPE will take advantage of the considerable marketing and release power the investment group enjoys in China.

Sony Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman, Columbia Pictures head Sanford Panitch and SPE President of Business Affairs Andrew Gumpert are handling the deal on behalf of Sony. The studio and Wanda did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The 28-year-old Wanda Group is on pace to spend more than $30 billion in deals this year, with almost half of that in sports and entertainment. The Sony pact comes on the heels of reports that Wanda would acquire a 49-percent minority stake in Paramount Pictures — the final fight of now-defunct Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman.

The Paramount talks have stalled, but Wanda still counts its $3.5 billion acquisition of Thomas Tull‘s Legendary Entertainment, which owns a quarter of the “Jurassic World” universe as well as monster movies like Godzilla.

The company that began as a residential real estate development firm in the northern port city of Dalian, China, has grown at a record pace. Last month, it announced plans to install 4,000 new RealD 3D screens and 150 new IMAX theaters — the largest-ever installation deals for each of those formats.

Sony is currently fifth in market share at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo. Notable 2016 releases include the all-female “Ghostbusters” and sleeper hits like Blake Lively‘s “The Shallows” and Fede Alvarez’s “Don’t Breathe.” They’ll cap the year with the anticipated space romance “Passengers,” starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.

News of the Wanda-SPE deal was first reported by Deadline.