Alibaba Pictures to combat China’s movie industry challenges with big data strategies

Technology to help Chinese film companies and cinemas reduce reliance on box office sales

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 9:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 10:19pm

Alibaba Pictures Group plans to transform the Chinese film industry by sharing big data about its users with film companies and cinemas to reduce their reliance on box office sales.

“China’s film industry is growing rapidly, but there are also many challenges,” said Zhang Qiang, chief executive of Alibaba Pictures, citing difficulties like finding talented actors, directors and risky investments.

“Alibaba Pictures wants to help the small and medium-sized film companies become more competitive by using Internet strategies to overcome challenges,” said Zhang during an Alibaba Pictures event in Shanghai on Monday. “The challenges in the film industry are also opportunities for us,” he said.

Alibaba Pictures to take 1 billion yuan in convertible bonds

Zhang said that Alibaba Pictures, the entertainment arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, aims to build financing platforms for small and medium film companies and provide data to enable targeted movie marketing in order to create new business models for the film industry.

Alibaba Group owns the South China Morning Post.

He said Internet companies have already transformed the movie ticketing industry via online ticketing portals such as Alibaba Pictures’ Tao PiaoPiao, Baidu’s Nuomi and Tencent’s Weipiao.

“With digital strategies, we have managed to change the purchasing habits of moviegoers,” said Zhang. “Ticket purchasing habits play a critical part in the movie industry, and online-to-offline ticketing will be the mainstream way of purchasing tickets.”

Alibaba Pictures to fund movies with Paramount, Italian director

Alibaba Pictures said yesterday that it was partnering 13 Hong Kong and Chinese film companies to produce a slew of movies and television dramas.

Some of its partners include Hong Kong’s Sun Entertainment and Filmko Pictures, as well as China’s Phoenix Legend Films and online gaming firm Giant Interactive’s newly-minted Giant Pictures.

Tech companies and traditional media companies are transforming their business models and service offerings in light of technological improvements and the digitalization of related media and entertainment, said Wilson Chow, leader for the technology, media and telecommunications team at PricewaterhouseCoopers Hong Kong and China.

“Tech companies may ride on the available technology and user community that they have secured for content production,” said Chow, who listed Alibaba and Tencent’s movie production arms as examples.

“By transforming themselves … they will also possess more accurate knowledge on their customers, such as their preferences and expectations, so that they can further enhance their service offerings [and] monetization of their services,” he added.

A recent PwC outlook on the entertainment and media sector estimated that China would overtake US as the global box office leader in 2017. China’s box office receipts stood at 27 billion yuan (HK$31.81 billion) last year, a 70 per cent growth over the receipts for 2014, according to PwC.

Alibaba Pictures to buy Chinese cinema-ticketing company as firm expands entertainment arm

In May Alibaba Pictures said it would invest 1 billion yuan for buying convertible bonds of Dadi Cinema Construction that will give it a foothold in theatre circuits as well as a partnership in content and e-commerce.

Last year, the company also invested in Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, starring Tom Cruise. Alibaba Pictures said in April this year that it agreed to invest in Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and Star Trek Beyond.

This story was amended to correct a reference to Friday, in paragraph three.