If you un­der­stand the need of a par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple, you can lit­er­ally sell them ev­ery­thing.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

In two years’ time, China’s do­mes­tic film box of­fice will sur­pass that of the United States, and be­come the largest in the world. That forecast has en­cour­aged many in­vestors hop­ing to ride the wave and make money.

The an­tic­i­pa­tion is ex­pected to bring rev­o­lu­tion­ary changes not only to China’s en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, but to the rest of the world.

The growth of China’s film mar­ket will im­pact the whole world, ac­cord­ing to Richard Gel­fond, CEO of IMAX Cor­po­ra­tion. The com­pany, with pres­ence in 65 coun­tries all over the world, now has more than 170 screens in China.

As China’s mid­dle class con­tin­ues to grow, the coun­try’s film mar­ket still has great po­ten­tial, said Gel­fond, as only 11 of these IMAX screens in China are lo­cated in first-tier cities. The chal­lenge will be how much to pen­e­trate that mar­ket, he said dur­ing the 18th Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (SIFF).

The fast evo­lu­tion in dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy will also give China a chance to be­come the in­dus­try leader of film and en­ter­tain­ment, Gel­fond said. While Hol­ly­wood still has the ad­van­tage of its tal­ent pool, ma­ture in­fra­struc­ture and so on, China will be able to cre­ate stu­dios of the fu­ture, with cut­ting edge tech­nolo­gies and dig­i­tal evo­lu­tion.

With its great mar­ket pros­per­ity, China has the po­ten­tial to lever­age its enor­mous do­mes­tic box of­fice to in­flu­ence the global out­look of the in­dus­try, he said. As the box of­fice rev­enue grows rapidly, qual­i­ties of films will con­se­quently rise, be­cause cost of pro­duc­tions will grow, and China’s film­mak­ers will not only be com­pet­i­tive within the do­mes­tic mar­ket, but also with Hol­ly­wood, he said.

To ap­peal to spe­cific groups of au­di­ences, it of­ten doesn’t work to hire ac­tors of a par­tic­u­lar coun­try, said Marc Sh­muger, a film and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tive for more than 30 years. Sch­muger has long held se­nior po­si­tions at Columbia Pic­tures and Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures and he was in Shang­hai for the SIFF.

“But there is good op­por­tu­nity that great col­lab­o­ra­tion will take place, where Hol­ly­wood sto­ry­telling comes to­gether with Chi­nese sub­jects to cre­ate good films,” he said.

Kungfu Panda III could be an ex­am­ple in that di­rec­tion. The fran­chise has gained great suc­cess in the global mar­ket. The first two in­stall­ments grossed a to­tal of $1.3 bil­lion at the box of­fice world­wide, with a pro­duc­tion bud­get of $280 mil­lion.

The third episode was pro­duced by Ori­en­tal Dreamworks, a joint ven­ture be­tween Dreamworks An­i­ma­tion of the US and Chi­nese in­vestors. This will be the first fea­ture film pro­duc­tion from the new stu­dio, which is lo­cated in Shang­hai, lo­cated on the west bank of the Huangpu River.

Kungfu Panda III is sched­uled for global re­lease on Jan 29, 2016. The Chi­nese edi­tion has adopted a new lip-sync tech­nol­ogy, al­low­ing the char­ac­ters to ut­ter di­a­logues in Chi­nese more nat­u­rally.

China’s film box of­fice amounted to $4.8 bil­lion in 2014, and the num­ber has been grow­ing by 30 to 35 per­cent an­nu­ally in the past few years, ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from SIFF. By 2017, China’s do­mes­tic film box of­fice is ex­pected to grow to $5.5 bil­lion, and the In­ter­net is ex­pected to be a ma­jor driv­ing force in the de­vel­op­ment of China’s film in­dus­try, in­dus­try watch­ers at the SIFF fo­rums held June 14 to 18, agree.

Yu Yang, pres­i­dent of Analysys Think Tank, has coined a new phrase, which has gone vi­ral in busi­ness talks: In­ter­net Plus. In­ter­net join­ing hands with any in­dus­try will bring rad­i­cal changes in the field, and In­ter­net Plus Film has been the hottest topic at this year’s SIFF.

The In­ter­net will over­turn the ex­ist­ing busi­ness model, Yu said. In 20 years’ time, peo­ple will no longer talk about which en­ter­prise is an “In­ter­net cor­po­ra­tion” be­cause ev­ery one of them will be In­ter­net-rooted, he said.

At a sum­mit meet­ing of In­ter­net and film com­pa­nies on June 17, Yu il­lus­trated how the In­ter­net will im­pact the process of film­mak­ing.

Big data ac­cu­mu­lated from In­ter­net users will en­able pro­duc­ers to out­line their tar­get au­di­ences even be­fore the film is made, Yu said. This will help film­mak­ers cre­ate works closer to what au­di­ences would like to see. Peo­ple are more likely to iden­tify them­selves by their con­sump­tion be­hav­ior in the fu­ture, he said.

“If you un­der­stand the need of a par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple, you can lit­er­ally sell them ev­ery­thing.”

Last year, more than 350 mil­lion peo­ple shopped on Alibaba’s re­tail plat­form, taobao.com.

“We know these users’ ad­dress, mar­i­tal sta­tus, and life habits. The enor­mous data base can pro­vide in­sight­ful in­for­ma­tion for our part­ners, and bring great value,” said Zhang Yong, CEO of the e-com­merce com­pany, which an­nounced its latest move­ment to in­vest in the film in­dus­try.

In 2014, Alibaba launched Yule­bao, the world’s first plat­form for in­di­vid­u­als to in­vest in movie mak­ing. Users were so en­thu­si­as­tic that ev­ery time a pro­ject be­came avail­able on Yule­bao, the shares were sold out within one minute, Zhang said. More than 60 mil­lion peo­ple have made the at­tempt


pres­i­dent of Analysys Think


and In­ter­net cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives dis­cuss how their col­lab­o­ra­tion may change the out­look of the film in­dus­try.

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