EXCLUSIVE: Wanda Group has taken an equity stake in Best Picture nominee Lion and has committed to distribute the film in China in a deal closing with The Weinstein Company. Bringing aboard the world’s largest cinema chain operator gives a boost to an underdog film still rolling out and has grossed more than $100 million globally and is closing on $40 million domestic. This extends the relationship between TWC and film-hungry Wanda, which co-produced with TWC the Antoine Fuqua-directed boxing drama Southpaw in 2014.
Wanda is also getting involved at an earlier stage in the Alfonso Gomez-Rejon-directed The Current War, which is in production with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon playing George Westinghouse in the race to harness electricity and sell it to the American people.
TWC would not comment directly on Current War, but acknowledged that the Lion deal is in the offing. President and COO David Glasser said in a statement: “Lion‘s success at the box office continues to be incredible and we haven’t yet opened in some of the largest international markets. We’re excited to be working with Wanda again as they’ve quickly become a new leader in the global film industry and are the perfect team to help bring this movie to the Chinese audience.”
Said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein: “We couldn’t have asked for better partners on Southpaw, and now with Lion getting ready to open in China, we’re looking forward to growing this relationship even further.”