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Sony exec: Not selling to China, but somebody might

Thelead of Sony Corp.’sentertainment unit said that the company does not plan to sell its contentstudios, despite speculation that Dalian Wanda Group Corp. Ltd. could be .

Duringa Sept. 27 industry conference hosted by TheWrap, Sony Entertainment CEOMichael Lynton was emphatic that his business would not be sold, arguing that contentis “integral to the company.” Moderator Sharon Waxman, CEO and editor-in-chiefat TheWrap, pressed him on the topic, saying that Sony seems to be movingfinancially more toward consumer electronics, but Lynton said that betweengaming and video, content is still a major part of the business.

Buthe did acknowledge the thirst on the part of some Chinese companies to buy aU.S. movie studio, even if he does not completely understand .

“Chinais probably the only country in the world that can have an industrialized moviebusiness like the United States,” he said.

Heexplained that only two countries have a large enough consumer population tosupport the model of recouping costs domestically then making a profitmultiplier on international showings: the U.S. and China.

“Thatto me is a sound strategy, and I think they can pull it off. Why buying Sony orParamount [Pictures] or Warner [Bros.] advances that strategy, that I don’tunderstand,” he said. “If you really went forward with that strategy, you wouldgrow it out of China. You wouldn’t grow it out of Los Angeles.”

Waxmanwent on to ask if it would be disconcerting for the industry and for Americansto have such an important component of U.S. culture controlled by China. Thatcould be the case, Lynton said, but the industry is not quite the culturaldiplomat it used to be. As studios have focused increasingly on profit and lesson the art form, making more “spectacles” with an eye to both domestic andinternational mainstream appeal, the cultural value of U.S. films has declinedon average, he said.

Howa Chinese company would handle the responsibility of owning a U.S. studioprobably depends on the company, he argued. Sony, for instance, has been “a greatsteward of cultural content,” he said.