Wanda Cinemas to buy Mtime movie e-commerce site for US$350m

Two sides will integrate resources and businesses to offer services to film studios and other media companies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 4:52pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2016, 4:52pm

Wanda Cinema Line, the Wanda Group offshoot controlled by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, has agreed to buy Mtime.com, one of China’s top movie e-commerce, news and ticketing portals, in a deal worth US$350 million.

Mtime has the merchandising rights for world-renowned studios such as Disney, Warner Brothers and Universal Pictures.

Wanda Cinema is already China’s biggest movie theatre chain, and the acquisition will further strengthen its grip on the burgeoning domestic industry.

The move is the latest in a series of M&As carried out by Wang’s entertainments vehicle, as its beefs up its presence in both the online and offline distribution of movies.

“The resources owned by Wanda Cinemas and Mtime.com complement each other well,” said John Zeng, the president of Wanda Cinema.

“The online resources and technologies Mtime.com has can help Wanda further activate the potential and power of its ecological movie-going platform,” he said, referring to the firm’s impressive ecosystem for film production and marketing.

Once the deal is completed, Mtime.com will maintain its independent brand and operations, while the pair plan to build a new platform combining offline and online resources to target about 100 million users, it said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange.

The partnership will also help Wanda further tap into merchandising and develop new online distribution models, it said.

Mtime owns the world’s second largest film database, and has what it claims are “solid connections” with a network of global film companies.

With its merchandise rights from Disney, Marvel Studios, and Universal Studios, the online movie portal also engages in product design and online sales.

China’s total box office revenue is projected by accounting firm PwC to become the world’s largest in 2017.

But competition in the global movie distribution market has intensified in recent months, after a flurry of deals, with Wanda taking centre stage.

Wanda Cinema’s rival Enlight Media paid US$245 million for a 19 per cent stake in China’s largest online ticketing portal Maoyan in May.

In Janury, Wanda took over US film studio Legendary Entertainment, while US theatrical exhibitor AMC Entertainment, also owned by Wanda since 2012, bought its rival Carmike in March in a deal to create the largest cinema chain in the US.

Earlier this month, AMC reached agreed a US$1.2 billion deal to acquire Britain’s prominent movie theater chain, Odeon & UCI Cinemas.