NBCUniversal International Inks Multi-Year Movie Deal With China's Alibaba
The licensing pact includes titles like 'Furious 7' and 'Jurassic World.'
NBCUniversal International on Wednesday unveiled a multi-year movie licensing deal with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
Terms of the pact were not disclosed, but will cover film titles from Universal Pictures’ new release and library slates, to be made available on Alibaba’s Tmall Box Office service starting this month. The Alibaba deal will kick off with titles like Furious 7 and Jurassic World that already scored as box office hits in China, in addition to Minions, which is set for a 3D release in China on Sept. 13.
Universal Pictures International earlier this year set a new industry record for the highest-grossing year ever at the international box office. That followed Jurassic World becoming the third-highest-grossing movie of all time and Furious 7 emerging as the fifth-highest-grossing.
The studio also had box office hits with Minions and Fifty Shades of Grey. NBCUniversal International's licensing deal is also part of Alibaba's latest efforts to expand its entertainment business to cover film, TV and gaming content. Alibaba earlier invested in Paramount's Mission: Impossible 5 and launched the Netflix-like streaming service, TBO.
Alibaba's movie-making unit, Alibaba Pictures, is also backing a slate of films to be produced by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar wai, and is financing Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, starring Liu Yifei and to be directed by Zhang Yibai.
"This partnership will continue to increase our reach in the market, as well as driving additional revenues for us in Asia," Kevin MacLellan, NBCUniversal International chairman, said in a statement about the Alibaba licensing tie-up.
The Alibaba deal comes as NBCUniversal continues, like other Hollywood studios to diversify away from the maturing North American market, including SVOD services in China and elsewhere internationally.