They say there’s no business like show business and perhaps that explains why Dalian Wanda’s chief Wang Jianlin has his sights set on taking over Hollywood one deal at a time. The Chinese tycoon is reportedly now in talks to purchase Dick Clark Productions, best known for producing the Golden Globe Awards and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the US.
A source told the Wall Street Journal Wanda could pay as much as $1 billion for the company founded by the iconic Clark, who is best known for his 40-year stint as host of American Bandstand where he fashioned himself as the world’s oldest teenager.
The reported acquisition attempt is the latest in a series of Hollywood forays by Wanda in recent years, with Wang having stated his intention of transforming his Chinese mall development company into a global entertainment empire.
After turning the teenage music program American Bandstand into an American institution in the 1950s, Clark went on to a multi-decade career hosting and producing game shows as well as other TV programs. The once ageless hipster only passed away four years ago, but the host of The $100,000 Pyramid sold his production company to an investment group headed by Mosaic Media in 2002, and it has been flipped repeatedly since. In 2007, American businessman Daniel Snyder bought it only to sell the company to Guggenheim Partners five years later for $380 million. Eldridge Industries acquired it from Guggenheim last year.
If Wang is indeed offering $1 billion for the television production company, he may be counting on it not only to expand his Hollywood ambitions, but also to gives him access to a brand of event programming to sell in China.
Wanda Regroups After Paramount Failure
The reported deal for Dick Clark Productions comes less than a week after the Chinese firm learned that their attempts to acquire a 49 percent stake in Paramount Studios had been unsuccessful.
China’s richest man has since called an audible by swooping on the television production firm as well as securing a deal with Sony Pictures. The Sony agreement will see Wanda promote a number of the Japanese-owned studio’s films in China while providing equity co-financing for some projects.
While these latest ventures may boost Wanda’s reach in Tinseltown, they are unlikely to end Wang’s desire to own a Hollywood studio.
“It would continue to establish their credibility as a major player,” Stanley Rosen, a USC political science professor, told the Los Angeles Times in describing the potential value of the Dick Clark acquisition. “The question would be how would it benefit them or China? … [Wang] still has the aim to buy a studio, and that is a much bigger catch.”
Next American Bandstand or Next American Bandstand Grill?
While Clark made Bandstand into an American institution the impresario suffered a few failures as well, including an ill-fated chain of American Bandstand-themed restaurants.
Similarly, Wang’s track record has a few misses to go with his hits. The developer was forced to sell off Madrid’s Edificio Espana earlier this year, after his €260 million (US$358.6 million) purchase of the Spanish landmark foundered over the local government’s refusal approve demolition and rebuilding of the art deco tower.
More recently, the Chinese billionaire suffered a setback in his aims of theme park domination after the Wuhan Wanda Movie Park unexpectedly closed 19 months after opening with media reports noting attendance at the much hyped facility had been flagging.