China's Alibaba Pictures to Invest in South Korean Film 'Real'

Alibaba Generic H 2015
AP Images/Invision

The film marks the Asian e-commerce giant's second international venture since its investment in 'Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.'

China's Alibaba Pictures said Monday it plans to invest in the South Korean film Real, starring Asian superstar Kim Soo-hyun.

A memorandum of agreement was signed during the 20th Busan International Film Festival, which wrapped its 10-day run Saturday. The deal will give the film arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant the sole distribution rights for the movie in China, for which it plans to leverage Alibaba group's resources to support the film’s marketing in various aspects, including advertising placement, brand licensing and e-commerce development.

The deal reflects the strategic focus of Alibaba Pictures to go global, marking Alibaba's second international pact since its investment in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, which grossed about $137 million (more than ¥876 million) in China.

"Following that strong debut [with the latest Mission: Impossible title], Alibaba Pictures is confident that the Korean movie Real will mark another milestone as it continues to expand its footprint in the global film industry," Alibaba said in a statement. "The investment will also pave the way for Alibaba Pictures to further explore opportunities in Korea's internationally recognized and admired entertainment industry."

The deal marks the latest in a string of cross-border collaborations between the two Asian countries, which includes a $200 million joint film fund between the Korean culture ministry and Chinese private investors.

"We're investing in Real because the Korean film industry is arguably the most influential in terms of creativity in the region at present, and the hugely popular [actor] Kim Soo-hyun is the embodiment of that," said Zhang Qiang, CEO of Alibaba Pictures. "We aim to support regional movie making in Asia, as well as bigger Hollywood movies."

Added the CEO: "We will also acquire and develop quality intellectual property assets and consolidate our global resources, technologies and talent — in order to bring the best entertainment experience to users and to build an integrated, world-class entertainment platform for the movie industry."

Real, to be directed by Lee Jung Sub, is slated to go into production before the end of the year. The action movie will star Kim as a ruthless and ambitious casino/hotel mogul.

The most highly paid Korean actor in China, the 27-year-old has appeared in more than 40 Chinese commercials in 2014 alone. China's Sohu recently became a key shareholder of Kim’s Korean agency Keyeast Entertainment and plans to pursue co-production projects featuring the actor.

Kim has enjoyed back-to-back success with his record-breaking films Secretly Greatly and The Thieves, as well as the pan-Asian blockbuster TV drama My Love From the Star.