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Chinese developer buys AMC movie theater chain

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David Brancaccio: A cash lifeline for the Internet company Yahoo: it’s selling half its stake in Alibaba, China’s biggest online commerce company. Alibaba’s Chinese founder is buying it back for more than $7 billion.

There is also some Chinese ownership coming to a theater near you. America’s second-largest movie theater chain AMC, now based in Missouri, is getting purchased by one of China’s biggest real estate development and movie theater companies.

Marketplace China bureau chief Rob Schmitz reports.

Rob Schmitz: The Dalian Wanda group bought AMC for $2.6 billion. Wanda runs 86 movie theaters in China; AMC runs 346 in the U.S.

James McGregor, author of ‘One Billion Consumers,’ says in pure real estate developer fashion, this deal for Wanda is all about expansion.

James McGregor: These guys have money and they probably have vision. They’re going to go to America and learn how to do it and get best practices and make good money along the way.

Chinese box office sales last year were around two billion, making it the third-biggest market after the U.S. and Japan. And from the looks of it, there’s nowhere to go but up. That’s because going to the movies in China is an upscale affair — customers typically buy reserved seats in luxurious theaters, and they’re not cheap. A ticket to see the 3D epic “Avatar” in China, for example, cost three times what it cost in the U.S.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

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