China’s social media platform Douban to diversify into movie production

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2016, 8:30pm, one of the most popular social media platforms in mainland China, said it plans to establish a movie production and distribution business, the latest in a growing number of Chinese internet firms to enter China’s burgeoning film market.

The company, well-known for its rich copyright content, is planning to select popular novels from among its 8,000 exclusive articles from over 20,000 authors registered on the website and adapt them into films, Yang Bo, chief executive said in an internal letter to employees, which was released publicly on Tuesday.

Yang said the company will partner with movie directors and screenwriters to adapt movies from user-generated content, as well as serving as producer, distributor and exhibitor for the movies. Yang did not disclose the size of the investment in the company’s new movie business.

Established in 2005, Douban is well-known among Chinese internet users, forging a social networking platform for book, movie and music reviews and recommendations, and publication of original novels. The website boasts 100 million registered users, according to mainland media.

As a trial, Douban invested US$20,000 so that a young independent director could adapt for the screen an online story originally published on the website. The resulting 16-minute short film One Day Hero debuted at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June.

Separately, Douban has sold the copyright for 10 novels, including a science fiction story titled A Running Man for the Sun, which was sold for millions of yuan to New Classics Pictures.

Douban will partner with New Classics Pictures to produce and distribute the movie, Yang added.

The latest moves by Douban suggest that the mania of so-called “IP movies” is likely to continue in China’s entertainment industry as more mainlanders show their willingness to pay for online content.

IP Movie is a buzzword referring to a film production adapted from online fiction that has already generated significant readership.

Chinese internet companies have been involved in most of the top-grossing movies at the Chinese domestic box office since 2014, with many of them IP movies.

China now ranks as the world’s second-largest movie market after the US. Box-office receipts in the first six months of this year reached over 24.2 billion yuan, up 21 per cent year on year, according to industry figures.

The country is also building entertainment infrastructure on a colossal scale. Cinema operators have added more than 3,800 new screens so far this year to reach a total of 38,600 screens across the country, according to official data.