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Tencent Opens New Film Production Arm As Internet Giants Race To Entertain
Chinese online giant Tencent just announced that it is setting up Penguin Pictures, a film production arm for online drama production, investment in films and development of its own pool of artists.
The company plans to make minority investments in some 10-15 movies per year. Tencent has already accelerated expansion into China’s booming film production industry through investments in a series of blockbusters since last year, including local box office champion Monster Hunt. The combined box office revenues of films that Tencent has invested in reportedly reached 4.5 billion RMB ($706 million USD).
At the same time, the tech giant revealed a launch schedule for eight self-producted online shows, including one adapted from online literature bestseller ‘Ghost Blows Out the Light’.
To challenge public impression that online shows are low-quality, the company has had a bevy of talented directors and producers come on board, and the budget of each episode is no less than 5 million RMB, according to Fang Fang, an executive of the firm.
Online drama, especially those adapted from best-selling novels, are becoming increasingly popular among China’s younger generation with small-budget productions hitting billions of clicks.
It is interesting to note that Tencent has sent invitations to local media for a launch event on Sept. 17 for Tencent Pictures, a similar entertainment spin-off from Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group, a comprehensive entertainment branch of the internet behemoth.
Establishing two teams or subsidiaries focused on similar products is a typical move for Tencent’s brutal internal competition. It has appeared more than once that Tencent teams from different departments develop products in the same class at the same time.
One successful case of this tactic (that the Tencent CEO is very proud of) was their three concurrent WeChat development teams. The one who published their product and captured the market first won out. Of course, the company only applies this tactic to products that they considered to have strategic importance.
But a company insider also disclosed that Tencent Pictures will have a wider focus on gaming, animation, literature and film & TV sectors, citing a report from Sina Tech.
As two major rivals of Alibaba and Baidu are making inroads into entertainment sector, it is not surprising for us to see that Tencent is also following the trend. As one of the biggest online book publishers in China, it has rich IP resources to capitalize on, furthermore, Tencent is also the investor of Huayi Brothers, China’s Wanrer Bros.
China’s total box office revenue has hit 30.09 billion RMB as of September 5 this year, soaring 48.04% YOY, according to official data released by China’s press and publication watchdog. The rapid market growth has attracted Chinese internet giants to join this booming industry with advantages in capital support, platforms, promotion channels and contents.
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Image credit: Tencent