China's Alibaba Pictures Swings to 2015 Profit

Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma - Getty-H 2016
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An investment in Paramount's 'Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation' contributed $10.6 million in revenue and boosted the company's profit by $1.1 million.

Boosted by the financial gains from a stock offering, Alibaba Pictures Group bounced back and ended up in the black in 2015.

On Tuesday, the Beijing-based studio, which is the film subsidiary of Jack's Ma's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, reported a full-year profit of $71.7 million (RMB466 million), compared with a $64.1 million loss in 2014.

APG's operating loss actually widened slightly in 2015, but one-time gains, including from the share issuance with net proceeds of $1.5 billion (HK$12.1 billion), led it to a net profit.

Revenue for 2015 came in at $40.6 million, a year-over-year increase of 108.3 percent, helped by acquisitions.

APG attributed much of its revenue gains to its $134 million acquisition of Yueke, one of the largest suppliers of cinema ticketing systems in China. The company said it expects Yueke to continue to be a strong revenue generator, given the growth trajectory of China's national box office, which expanded at a rate of over 50 percent in the first two months of this year.

Other assets acquired by APG in 2015 include Tabao Movie, a mobile ticketing service, and Yulebao, an innovative crowdsourcing platform for financing of entertainment projects. In a lengthy interview with THR in November, AGP's president, Zhang Wei, detailed her vision for integrating the company's various digital assets into the movie development, production and distribution process.

APG's investment in Paramount's Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation contributed $10.6 million in revenue and boosted profit by $1.1 million in 2015. APG served as the picture's official promotional partner in China, where the film grossed $136 million, setting a new record for an imported 2D release.

The Alibaba unit has yet to release a film of its own, but a raft of projects are shooting or in development, including Ferry Man, from producer Wong Kar Wai and starring Tony Leung; Ao Jiao Yu Pian Jian, an adaptation of a hit online novel; and Three Lives Three Worlds Ten Miles of Peach Blossom, also based on a popular local book. In TV, the studio is readying an animated drama, Return of The Pearl Princess, to be directed by the in-demand actress-turned-filmmaker Vicki Zhao.

The company's shares are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.