Alibaba announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding for a new investment in Korean action film Real. The investment will give Alibaba Pictures the right to operate marketing, including advertising, brand licensing and e-commerce development according to the company. In the coming film, well-known Korean superstar Soo-hyun Kim will play an ambitious and ruthless swindler who establishes an empire of casinos and hotels.
The deal was follows Alibaba’s investment in Paramount’s Mission: Impossible, Rogue Nation in June this year, which set a record as the highest grossing 2D Hollywood movie ever.
Zhang Qiang, CEO of Alibaba Pictures said, “We’re investing in Real because the Korean film industry is arguably the most influential creatively in the region at present and the hugely popular Kim Soo-hyun is the embodiment of that. We aim to support regional movie making in Asia, as well as bigger Hollywood movies.”
China’s interest in the Korean entertainment is not new. Korean dramas and films have gained huge success in the Chinese market, building the local fandom of Korean celebrities, including Soo-hyun Kim.
Korean romance drama, My Love From The Star was aired in 15 Asian countries and reportedly garnered 3.1 billion viewers earlier last year. As a main character of the drama, Soo-hyun Kim is one of the most famous celebrities in China now and has a huge influence in the mainland. Chinese website Sohu paid $2.4 million USD for the rights to stream Producer in 2015, which featured a cast led by Kim. A heroine of the drama, Jihyun Jun has also attracted a large Chinese fandom following her recent role in Korean film Assassination.
Korean movies have also driven the sale of other Korean items, offering big opportunities for Korean companies. The sale of Korean food and beverage, fashion brands and beauty products is growing in China. Cosmetics have now become one of Korea’s main consumer export items showing double-digit growth.
As Chinese tech giants move into entertainment industry they are benefiting from a range of consumer points including online ticketing, promotion and merchandising of the films.
Hollywood has also been taking advantage of Chinese tech companies expanding in the entertainment industry, particularly in online streaming. This week Baidu backed iQiyi inked a deal with film studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., the production company behind The Hunger Games. Tencent also signed a deal with Walt Disney to become the exclusive online distributor of the first six Star Wars films. Earlier this year Youku Tudou announced a licensing deal with Paramount Pictures, adding over 100 movies to their subscription service.