Property firms go into show business
As government tightening measures turn the screws on the mainland property sector, some developers are turning to show business in an attempt to offset shrinking margins.
Evergrande Real Estate, the country's second-largest developer in terms of turnover, said it would produce about 10 films and television serials through its subsidiary Evergrande Film this year. It could invest more than 100 million yuan (HK$123 million) in a single project.
'We will spread our wings and move into the film industry this year,' Wu Xuedan, the chairman of Evergrande Film, said yesterday.
Evergrande was one of the first developers to offer significant discounts to boost sales after the central government launched austerity measures to cool the red-hot market.
Last year, the company sold 12.2 million square metres of real estate worth 80.4 billion yuan.
The ambitious developer started to diversify three years ago. It became the title sponsor for Guangzhou football, volleyball and badminton teams in 2009, and the following year it formed subsidiaries that cover the film, animation, cinema, artist agency and record businesses.
Wu said the company's first film this year, Mission Rescue, was an action flick targeting younger audiences. This year, it would also produce a television serial on Wu Zetian, a Tang Dynasty empress.
'As a newcomer to this field, we're still feeling our way,' she said. 'Our goal is to become a top film production company in five to 10 years.'
Wu estimated that Evergrande Film would turn a profit this year.
The mainland film market is notching up the fastest growth in the world, powered by rising investment and a growing number of screens. A recent survey said mainland box-office revenue was likely to have surged nearly 30 per cent to 13 billion yuan last year, making China the third-largest film market in the world.
Developers Shimao and Dalian Wanda are also eyeing the silver screen, and are opening cinemas across the country.
Shimao said it would double the number of screens to 200 this year while Wanda expected to have as many as 1,100 screens, generating 3.5 billion yuan in annual revenue.