Alibaba Pictures, the movie division of Jack Ma’s Chinese e-commerce giant, is to invest in Paramount Pictures’ “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” according to the company. This is Alibaba Pictures’ first investment in a Hollywood blockbuster.
Alibaba will be the official partner for the movie’s promotion in China, where it will work with Paramount in online ticketing, merchandising and promotion using its Taobao Movie app, Mobile Taobao and Alipay. Using Alibaba’s ecosystem, ticket buyers will be able to book their tickets as well as purchase Paramount-authorized “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” promotional products.
More and more Chinese entities are now eyeing Hollywood studios and production companies to build partnerships. According to LA Times, China’s Hunan TV invested $375 million US in Lionsgate’s movie slate over three years, real estate firm Bosun last year put $200 million US into Jeff Ronbinov’s new Studio 8 production companies, and Beijing-based Huayi Bros studio announced in March that it was investing in a slate of at least 18 films with Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment. Former Disney studio chief Dick Cook has also launched a new production company with $150 million US from a Chinese investment group, CITIC Guoan.
Alibaba Group’s move into entertainment sector has been aggressive since 2014, injecting huge amounts of capital in film and TV program production companies as well as building partnerships with overseas production studios. Alibaba Pictures said in early June that it would issue new shares to raise $1.6 billion US to fund acquisitions and investments.
This year Alibaba Pictures announced its inaugural local production would be a comedy written and directed by Zhang Jiajia, which is slated for release at the end of the year. Last year, the company invested in films likes So Young and Tiny Times, however, failed to turn a profit with a net loss of $443.54 million HK for the first half of last year.
Other tech giants are also putting out their efforts to take part in entertainment area. Tencent has mainly focused on bringing its most popular online games, cartoons and novels to the theater. The company introduced “Movie Plus” last year in a bid to commercialize its intellectual property. Baidu has already been working on a series of TV shows, and its online video streaming portal iQiyi launched its film production studio iQiyi Pictures last year. As one of the first internet companies to enter the following sector, LeTV has produced or published 15 films last year, reportedly recording over 3 billion RMB in revenue.
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