Date
4 December 2016
Ang Lee’s new movie Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which is invested in by Fosun, drew mixed reviews during the New York Film Festival last week. Photo: YouTube
Ang Lee’s new movie Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which is invested in by Fosun, drew mixed reviews during the New York Film Festival last week. Photo: YouTube

Movie industry: Chinese conglomerates’ new battlefield

Alibaba, Tencent and Fosun have all invested in the lucrative movie industry and their first productions will soon hit the screen.

These could give the market some fresh trading hints.

Alibaba Picture Group‘s Bai Du Ren (The Ferryman) is scheduled to debut during Christmas.

Influential Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai is the producer. The film stars his frequent collaborator, Tony Leung, and several other actors including Takeshi Kaneshiro, Eason Chan and Angelababy,

This inaugural film is a comedy written and directed by the 36-year-old author Zhang Jiajia, who used to work as a production assistant in TV stations and write columns.

He started to write short stories, mostly about the lives and affections of people living in the big city, on his Weibo account in 2013.

They have become popular online and have been read by more than 400 million people.

A collection of short stories, I Belonged To You, was a bestseller last year in China.

The book earned him 19.5 million yuan (US$2.94 million), a record that places him in the top spot on the China Writer List, beating controversial young writers Han Han and Guo Jingming, even Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan.

At least six of his stories will be made into films.

And his best-selling book, I Belonged To You, has already been adapted into a movie and released earlier this year. The movie made more than 800 million yuan at the box office.

I’ve noted before it’s the golden period for China’s artists and writers.

China has many online platforms but lacks good content. With 1.3 billion people, the country is an enormous market for entertainment industry.

Meanwhile, Fosun Media’s Studio 8 has invited Ang Lee to direct its first firm, an adaptation of the Ben Fountain novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

The movie costs more than US$40 million and it’s the first full-length narrative film shot in 4K, native 3D at the ultra high rate of 120 frames per second.

The film will be released on Nov. 11 in the US and China.

Two years ago, Fosun International invested in Jeff Robinov’s Los Angeles-based Studio 8, which aims to make some big budget films.

Finally, I like to mention Tencent Pictures’ thriller Blood Of Youth, which is about hi-tech crimes in campus.

The film will be released on Dec. 9.

Blood Of Youth appears to be targeted at a niche market but the theme might be quite appealing to mainland youths.

Anyway, the film industry has become a battlefield for Chinese corporate giants.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 24

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

RT/RA

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

EJI Weekly Newsletter