Internet Companies Make Waves in Film Industry

Francis Eduard Ang

Internet giants like Tencent Pictures are revolutionizing the Chinese film industry by tying it into other related industries and changing the way content is produced, promoted and distributed.

Tencent Holdings announced the founding of its subsidiary Tencent Pictures on Sept. 17, with the aim of challenging Hollywood blockbusters.

One of Tencent Pictures’ latest projects is the upcoming fantasy film “Warcraft,” based on the successful series of video games, which is scheduled for release in 2016. For the project, Tencent will cooperate with Legendary Pictures, a U.S. film studio.

Tencent will use its assets in data collection and consumer-oriented systems to create a tailored marketing and distribution plan for the Chinese release of “Warcraft,” according to Cheng Wu, CEO of Tencent Pictures.

Aside from supporting major Hollywood releases, Tencent is also currently in talks to enter a strategic cooperation agreement with novelist and filmmaker Guo Jingming, director of the successful film franchise, “Tiny Times.” The coming-of-age series has earned a record of 1.8 billion yuan ($280 million).

Guo will produce the film adaptation of the novel “Legend of Ravaging Dynasties” together with Tencent Pictures.

“In contrast to Hollywood’s mature chains, China’s entertainment industry lacks a complete system to develop a brand program, which should cover a wide range from TV series and movies to computer games and smartphone games,” said Guo.

According to Chen Yingjie, chief of one of three sub-studios Tencent has founded to independently develop content, interactive communications with netizens will be an important aspect of program development. He gave the example of Destiny Changer, an unfinished novel still being written and published online, with the finished chapters already having been developed into the first season of a series.

“We’ll keep a close eye on feedback. The story lines and characters can be revised by requests from fans,” said Chen. “In the past, directors and script writers have the final say in a production, but now that right belongs to the audiences.”

According to a statement by Yu Dong, CEO of Bona Film Group, he predicted that in the near future, all the traditional film companies will be affiliated with Internet companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

“The only part they are unfamiliar with is how to produce a good movie. That requires unique creativity,” Yu said.


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