Alibaba's Jack Ma Reportedly Meeting With Hollywood Studios to Buy Online Content

Jack Ma Alibaba - H 2014
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Jack Ma Alibaba - H 2014

Ma is looking for distribution rights to U.S. TV shows and movies

Alibaba chief Jack Ma is in Hollywood leading a team of executives meeting with studios to acquire online content, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

He is due to meet with Lionsgate, Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Sony and Universal, and will seek to give Alibaba the right to distribute U.S. movies and TV shows at home, or invest in studio stakes.

His entourage will include Liu Chunning, vice president of Alibaba’s digital and entertainment unit, and Zhang Qiang, the former second-in-command at China Film Group who now heads up Alibaba Pictures.

They are expected to meet with some of Hollywood’s most senior executives, including Paramount chairman Brad Grey and Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment.

Florence Shih, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Alibaba, told THR it was company policy not to comment on rumors and speculation.

Read more Alibaba Leads China's Multibillion-Dollar Plan to Take on Hollywood

Alibaba, along with its peers Baidu and Tencent, as well as investment firm Fosun International and the real estate giant Wanda, are keen to boost links with Hollywood, establishing themselves as the global studios of the future.

The record-breaking Alibaba stock listing on Sept. 19 valued the company at an estimated $25 billion with a market value of roughly $230 billion, showing just how much cash the company has to fund expansion.

Most believe the e-commerce power will spend big to develop its content offerings.

In June, Ma set up Alibaba Pictures with the purchase of ChinaVision Media Group in Hong Kong for $804 million, then appointed Zhang Qiang to run the new production studio.

Alibaba Film Group has said it plans to invest in eight to 10 films every year, three to five TV dramas and the same number of web-only dramas.

The company has also launched Yulebao, a crowdfunding-like service that lets ordinary Chinese make micro-investments in upcoming movies via their smart phones.

Fosun invested $200 million in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 in June, has held talks to invest in Lionsgate, while Wanda, which controls AMC Entertainment, has just acquired prime real estate in Beverly Hills for its U.S. headquarters.