Tencent eyes big picture as it forms partnership with Tang Media and China Everbright

The Chinese internet giant’s arms – Tencent Pictures and Tencent Penguin Pictures – join hands with Tang Media and China Everbright to distribute films and produce original television content for Chinese audiences

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 7:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 April, 2018, 7:03am

Chinese technology behemoth Tencent Holdings is increasingly making its presence felt in the country’s booming film sector, with its film production and distribution arm Tencent Pictures on Monday forming a consortium with media and entertainment company Tang Media Partners and investment firm China Everbright.

TMP, headed by former investment banker Donald Tang, said that it aims to distribute between 10 to 20 films from Hollywood and other foreign language movies each year in China for distribution. It also plans to produce original content.

TMP, however, did not elaborate on the scope and size of the planned investment.

“Tencent Pictures is highly in sync with TMP in terms of strategic vision,” said Cheng Wu, CEO of Tencent Pictures in Hong Kong.

The partnership comes as China becomes an increasingly important market for foreign films, particularly Hollywood. Of the global box office sales of US$40.6 billion in 2017, China accounted for US$7.9 billion, according to data from Motion Picture Association of America. This is in stark contrast to situation in the US and Canada, where cinema attendance dropped to 22-year low in the same year.

China’s technology companies and conglomerates including Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post, Tencent and Dalian Wanda, which controls the US theatre chain AMC, have all stepped up efforts in grabbing domestic audiences in recent years.

“We would like to associate with big brands that have significant resources in the social and digital domain,” said TMP’s Tang, adding that Everbright was essentially a financing partner and that the distribution strategy will be executed with Tencent.

TMP also announced that it has formed a new joint venture with India’s entertainment conglomerate Reliance Entertainment to export Indian films to China and introduce Chinese films to India. It is also co-producing a television series with Tencent Penguin Pictures.

“TMP will make films and digital TV shows for the Chinese market with [a touch of] Hollywood magic. In time we will find Chinese stories that can also be hits in Hollywood and across the world. We have the DNA for all this under one roof,” he said.

Tang said he was hoping for a share flotation in the next 18 to 24 months with the listing venue yet to be decided.

TMP made headlines in 2016, when it bought a majority stake in IM Global, the international sales and production finance business headed by former Miramax Films executive Stuart Ford. TMP also bought the North American film distributor Open Road last year, integrating the two entities as Global Road Entertainment.