China's Alibaba Pictures Names Fan Luyuan CEO

Alibaba Pictures Group
Fan Luyuan

Jack Ma's film studio, which has a strategic stake in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, has named another tech-industry insider to the top of its leadership ranks.

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma's Beijing-based film studio Alibaba Pictures Group has named company insider Fan Luyuan as CEO.

Fan, whose background is primarily in tech, will take over at the helm of the conglomerate's movie unit from Yu Yongfu, who was appointed CEO during a restructuring at the Chinese e-commerce giant last year. Yu remains chairman of Alibaba's Digital Media & Entertainment Group, of which Alibaba Pictures is a part.

Fan joined Alibaba in 2007 and rose through the ranks at the company's mobile payments product division Alipay. He later founded Alibaba's mobile ticketing service Tao Piao Piao, which has expanded rapidly in recent years to become a market leader. Over the past five years, mobile ticketing has gone from being a negligible portion of the Chinese entertainment landscape to becoming the means by which 85 percent of all movie tickets are sold.

Although he's relatively new to the film industry, Fan has served as an executive director and a member of Alibaba Pictures' executive committee. He is said to have participated in the company's recent major strategic decisions.

Alibaba Pictures was founded in 2012, when Ma's e-commerce behemoth made a play to move deeper into content creation and entertainment services via a $805 million acquisition of Hong Kong film company ChinaVision Media. As part of the takeover, Alibaba hired local industry veteran Zhang Qiang, former head of China Film Group. Zhang was shunted aside last year, however, and Alibaba has since named company loyalists with deep tech pedigrees to the film studio's top executive ranks.

Alibaba Pictures has produced a small number of local Chinese films, such as Ferry Man and Ao Jiao Yu Pian Jian, while also investing in Hollywood titles such as Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Star Trek Beyond. It also made a strategic minority investment in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment last year. The company recently served as the local marketing and distribution partner for Amblin's A Dog's Purpose, which earned $88 million in China. 

Reflecting the tech background of its leadership ranks, Alibaba Pictures recently has been focusing much of its resources on building out its technology-based entertainment industry solutions, such as digital financing, marketing, ticketing and distribution services.