On­line fan­tasy to hit the big screen with fan sup­port

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XU­FAN

Alibaba Pic­tures is the lat­est on­line plat­form tomake a bid for the big screen, an­nounc­ing it plans to turn a popular In­ter­net novel into a movie with the help of fans.

San­sheng San­shi Shili Tao­hua, (Ten-Mile Peach Blos­som of Three Life­times), adapted from a 2008 hit on­line fan­tasy novel of the same ti­tle, will start shoot­ing in­Novem­ber.

Set in a fic­tional world in which mon­sters, gods and hu­mans co­ex­ist, the story weaves a com­pli­cated timeline into a bit­ter­sweet ro­mance be­tween a 140,000year-old fox princess and a 50,000-year-old dragon prince.

Writ­ten by a low-pro­file au­thor who is known only by the pseu­do­nym Tangqi Gongzi, the novel has be­come an In­ter­net sen­sa­tion since it was re­leased in 2008 on Jjwxc.net, one of the coun­try’s largest lit­er­a­ture web­sites.

The nov­el­waspub­lishedby Shenyang Press in 2009 and has sold 1.1 mil­lion copies.

With a solid base of fans, up to 190 mil­lion pieces of news, re­views and other con­tent re­lated to the novel can be found through the search en­gine Baidu.com.

In­dus­try watch­ers say its on­line pop­u­lar­ity and po­ten­tial for mar­ket earn­ings could pro­pel the film to be the next block­buster that be­gan life on­line.

The boom be­gan when So Young, the di­rec­to­rial de­but of A-list actress Zhao Wei, now a ma­jor share­holder of Alibaba Pic­tures, took a record box of­fice of 718 mil­lion yuan ($116 mil­lion) in 2013.

How­ever, the film unit of the coun­try’s most valu­able e-com­merce com­pany, Alibaba, is mak­ing the lat­est ti­tle of this genre a bit dif­fer­ently, designing it for the tar­geted au­di­ence by al­low­ing fans to in­flu­ence ev­ery step of the moviemak­ing process.

Zhang Qiang, CEO of Alibaba Pic­tures, re­veals that the orig­i­nal script has been eval­u­ated by some die-hard fans, and the novel’s read­ers will also have the right to se­lect the cast through on­line votes.

A cam­paign to re­cruit some ac­tors has been launched in a num­ber of col­leges in the coun­try.

Zhang Yibai, the movie’s pro­ducer and a vet­eran direc­tor of ro­mance-themed block­busters, has de­fined him­self as a “project manager” rather than a film­maker.

Though hardly mask­ing their com­mer­cial am­bi­tion, the film­mak­ers prom­ise the movie won’t be a coarse pro­duc­tion to be made only for the money.

“We’ll cre­ate the best vis­ual ef­fects and have a big bud­get to hire the top tal­ents,” said Zhang Qiang at a Bei­jing me­dia event onMay 26.

An­thony LaMoli­nara, Os­car-win­ner for best vis­ual ef­fects for Spi­derMan 2, will lead a Hol­ly­wood team to de­sign the fic­tional won­der­land of a spec­ta­cle from heaven to the ocean.

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