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China’s Richest Man, Billionaire Wang Jianlin, Is Trying to Conquer Hollywood

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BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 11: (CHINA OUT) Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin has a dialogue with TCL chairman Li Dongsheng at Sofitel Wanda on March 11, 2015 in Beijing, China. Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin and TCL chairman Li Dongsheng shared their venture development experiences and opinions of wealth and new generation of entrepreneurs to each other during a dialogue at Sofitel Wanda Beijing on Wednesday. (VCG/Getty Images)
Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin during a discussion at Sofitel Wanda on March 11, 2015 in Beijing, China. (VCG/Getty Images)

 

The new king of Hollywood will not be a familiar name like Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, or even Disney’s Bog Iger. Rather, it will likely be a man you have never heard of: Wang Jianlin.

The richest person in China, valued at over $33 billion by Forbes, Jianlin has been the subject of splashy articles in a number of American publications recently.

Fortune ranked him their 16th most important businessperson of the year, and Newsweek and The Hollywood Reporter have published lengthy profiles on him in the past month.

And for good reason. The 62-year-old appears to be on a mission to take over the world’s entertainment industry.

Here are a few things you should know about him:

>>He is the founder and CEO of Dalian Wanda Group (or just Wanda for short), China’s largest real estate developer and the world’s largest movie theater operator.

>>He also owns 20% of the Spanish soccer team Atletico Madrid.

>>A former border guard in China’s People’s Liberation Army who worked his way up to colonel in a 16-year military career, Jianlin didn’t move into real estate until the late 1980s.

Billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Co., reacts during the Hong Kong Asian Financial Forum (AFF) in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. Dalian Wanda Group, the property-to-entertainment conglomerate headed by Asia's richest man, is planning five 'substantial' acquisitions this year as the company braces for a drop in sales. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Billionaire Wang Jianlin reacts during the Hong Kong Asian Financial Forum (AFF) in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 

>>Last week Wanda purchased Dick Clark Productions, which produces the Golden Globe Awards and the American Music Awards, for $1 billion. Before that, it bought America’s AMC Theatres chain for $2.6 billion, giving it more than 300 cinemas in the U.S. (in addition to the 200 or so it already operated in China). Wanda also plans to buy Europe’s largest cinema chain, Odeon & UCI.

>>Back in January, Jianlin and Wanda bought movie studio Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, the production company behind The Dark Knight trilogy and Jurassic World.

>>Jianlin is building a massive film studio, Qingdao Movie Metropolis (QMM), in eastern China. At a cost of $8.2 billion, it will span 408 acres and comprise 30 stages, including the world’s largest indoor film stage.

>>Jianlin plans to lure big-budget American movies to film at QMM by offering studios a 40% production rebate. Industry experts say this will transform China into one of the world’s most financially attractive places to shoot a large-scale film.

>>Jianlin has made it clear that he wishes to purchase one of the six major Hollywood studios—either Sony, Fox, Paramount, Universal, Disney, or Warner Bros.—when one comes up for sale. “We are waiting for the opportunity,” he told CNN.

>>On a personal note, he owns over a thousand pieces of artwork valued at $1 billion, including a Picasso worth more than $28 million.

>>His favorite actress? Nicole Kidman. “My muse is Nicole Kidman,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “When I was young, I adored her. She’s very beautiful, and she’s also a big name here in China.”

You can read more about Jianlin here, here, and here.

And you can learn more about China’s general takeover of Hollywood in this 60 Minutes piece here.