Alibaba Pictures Chief Outlines Future Strategy

Zhang Qiang (center)

Zhang Qiang says using Alibaba's e-commerce platforms will help boost movie unit

Chinese online giant Alibaba will use its network of sales platforms to help boost its film business, as well as expand its non-box-office revenues and promote video-on-demand, the group's movie boss said.

Alibaba, whose founder and executive chairman Jack Ma was in Los Angeles last week, where he described his firm as "the world's biggest entertainment company" is gung-ho on expanding the company he founded. There has been a lot of speculation at American Film Market about what are his plans for the entertainment business.

Speaking at the 9th China Young Generation Film Forum this week, Zhang Qiang, a former China film executive who jumped ship to become head of Alibaba Pictures, outlined the group's future strategy.

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"Alibaba has 800 million users on the firm's Alipay, Taobao and Tianmao sales platforms, which offers huge potential," said Zhang. Alibaba in June bought 60 percent of ChinaVision Media Group in Hong Kong for $804 million to form the company.

Advances in Internet technology and the dawn of various forms of technology are transforming the traditional channels of promotion and distribution in the country and reforming such upstream sectors as financing and production.

As an example, Zhang said that its Maoyan unit had presold $24.54 million worth of tickets for Breakup Buddies. He said Alibaba would expand its film sales system nationwide to boost online ticket presales and improve marketing efficiency.

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"Ninety percent of film revenue in China relies on box office, and the whole ancillary market remains open season. In the future, you need only to scan a code, and you can buy ancillary items on Taobao, Tianmao or another Alibaba platform," he said.

Zhang said he was confident that VOD would also expand as part of the group's offering, and that high-definition, easy-to-buy and low-priced content would beat the pirates.

Zhang also stated that Chinese filmmakers needed to experiment more and not just concentrate on making mainstream movies that they think will appeal to the market.

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