Fact Check: Does the Chinese Communist Party Own AMC Entertainment, Legendary Films?

China has one of the world's top economies, making it one of the United States' largest economic competitors.

China's influence in the American movie industry has spread alarm for some social media users.

The Claim

Various social media claims have circulated alleging that AMC cinemas and Legendary Films are owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

"Remember that #AMC is a Chinese Communist Party owned company. Say no to AMC. #ccp #chinesecommunistparty"

Remember that #AMC is a Chinese Communist Party owned company. Say no to AMC. #ccp #chinesecommunistparty

— Leinad Reyob (@LReyob) November 4, 2020

"AMC theaters is owned by Chinese Communist Party. Boycott AMC"

AMC theaters is owned by Chinese Communist Party. Boycott AMC

— Deborah Hawkins (@Deborah91747360) September 1, 2020

"#ChinaOwned: Dalian Wanda owner of AMC cinemas, Hoyts Group as well as a Hollywood film studio Legendary has deep connections with the Chinese Communist Party #CCP..."

#ChinaOwned: Dalian Wanda owner of AMC cinemas, Hoyts Group as well as a Hollywood film studio Legendary has deep connections with the Chinese Communist Party #CCP... https://t.co/lH2k0dsEjZ

— China Owned (@ChinaOwned) August 12, 2020

"Let's not forget, AMC Theatres, North America's largest cinema chain is majority owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group. Although not a state owned enterprise, Wanda, as with ALL #Chinese firms (even foreign owned ones), must answer to the Chinese Communist Party."

Let’s not forget, AMC Theatres, North America’s largest cinema chain is majority owned by Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group. Although not a state owned enterprise, Wanda, as with ALL #Chinese firms (even foreign owned ones), must answer to the Chinese Communist Party.

— Isla Island (@IslaIsland886) April 30, 2020

The Facts

The Dalian Wanda Group, a private, multi-industry Chinese company, acquired AMC Entertainment in 2012.

AMC states on its website that the deal enabled "funding to ensure a massive escalation of AMC's world-class amenities, including recliner seating, better sight & sound presentation and MacGuffins bars."

Dalian Wanda purchased a majority stake in AMC for $2.6 billion, making AMC the largest theater operator at the time, according to a report from Reuters.

Chinese billionaire and businessman Wang Jianlin, who is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, is the owner of Dalian Wanda and is one of the country's richest men.

Three years after the Wanda Group bought AMC, AMC acquired Starplex Cinemas, according to AMC.

"As Starplex faded into obscurity when the last of the theaters were changed over to AMC in 2017, the company was swallowed by AMC and Dalian to become another cog in the machine," reported Investing.com, which noted that AMC bought Starplex for $175 million.

In 2016, Dalian Wanda, outside of AMC, bought Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in cash, the Wall Street Journal reported. It was the largest deal between Hollywood and China at the time. Legendary Entertainment still is owned by Dalian Wanda.

Notable films from Legendary Entertainment include Jurassic World, The Dark Knight and Inception.

"Maybe in the future we will acquire a bigger group. It is possible because we want to have a bigger position in the global movie industry," the Wall Street Journal reported Wang as saying at a news conference in Beijing in 2016.

A few months later, AMC theatres announced it had acquired Carmike Cinemas in 2016. The $1.1 billion deal, Quartz reported, bolstered Dalian Wanda's impact on U.S. theaters.

Then, AMC announced that it acquired Odeon & UCI Cinemas in 2016, the largest theater chain in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Dalian Wanda was AMC's largest shareholder from 2012 to 2018.

In 2018, AMC bought 24 million worth of company shares back from the Wanda Group "and issued $600 million worth of convertible notes to private equity firm Silver Lake," Reuters reported. The move reduced Dalian Wanda's ownership of AMC shares from about 60 percent to 38 percent.

The Hollywood Reporter reported, "As of Dec. 31, 2019, Wanda owned approximately 49.85 percent of AMC's outstanding common stock, but held 74.89 percent of the combined voting power," and asserted "tycoon" Wang was still in control despite owning less of AMC than before.

The Wanda Group, as of July 2020, controls the majority of the voting power on AMC's board and controls the issues that go before the board at its annual meeting because it holds more Class B common stock, according to its last filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Although Dalian Wanda owns less of AMC than it did from 2012 to 2018 and now is a minority shareholder, it still has large influence within the company.

In China, Wang operates one of the largest movie theater chains, Wanda International Cinemas.

The Ruling

Mostly False.

The Dalian Wanda Group owns a minority of AMC shares since 2018 and owns Legendary Entertainment. Wang Jianlin, who is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, owns Dalian Wanda.

Although Wang is a party member, his company is not owned by China or the Communist Party, so AMC or Legendary Films are not owned by the CCP.

AMC theater
A shuttered AMC Theatre on March 20, 2020, in Westbury, New York. The Dalian Wanda Group, owned by a Chinese businessman, owns 38 percent of AMC Entertainment. Getty