One thing that is important to remember when people talk about business, is that unlike in the United States, there really is no such thing as free enterprise in the People’s Republic of China. Like the telecommunications company Huawei, Wanda takes direction from the Chinese communist party. This is not an accident or an aberration but rather a feature of the state.
In 2017, America will likely have a new leader in movie theaters.
The shareholders of Carmike Cinemas — the fourth-largest movie theater operator in the United States — recently agreed on a deal to sell the company to AMC Entertainment for $1.2 billion. Now granted conditional approval by the Justice Department, the merger will make AMC the largest movie theater chain in the country with 8,380 screens in more than 600 cinemas nationwide.
So what’s the big deal? According to AMC CEO Adam Aron, there isn’t one. He argues that the merger is business as usual because “AMC is completely run by its American management in Leewood, Kansas, as American as an American place in the heartland you can find.” There’s one apparent problem with that description: AMC’s parent company is Dalian Wanda, a Chinese Communist Party-supported firm. Company chairman Wang Jianlin says, “[AMC‘s] boss is Chinese, so more Chinese films should be in their theaters.” Maybe something got lost in the translation.