China's Heyi Film Announces Movie Adaptation of Online Comedy 'Surprise'

Allen Zhu Heyi Film CEO - H 2014
Courtesy Youku Tudou

Allen Zhu Heyi Film CEO - H 2014

Heyi, the film unit of Internet giant Youku Tudou, will adapt the day-to-day misadventures of a character called Dachui Wang, who has had 2 billion cumulative video views online.

Heyi Pictures, the film unit of China's leading online TV company, Youku Tudou, in which e-commerce giant Alibaba has an 18.5 percent stake, has announced that it will make a feature movie of the local web smash Surprise.

The online comedy has had over 2 billion cumulative video views since its 2013 debut. It follows the day-to-day misadventures of a character called Dachui Wang as he navigates though various modern and classic situations.

Launching its slate earlier this year, Heyi Pictures CEO Allen Zhu said that it would focus on genre films.

Since the beginning of 2014, Heyi Pictures and its previous incarnation at Youku Tudou have co-produced 15 titles, collecting over $690 million at the Chinese box office. Among its big box-office successes are The Continent, Fleet of Time and Tsui Hark's The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

The project will feature leading Chinese author, film director (and race car driver) Han Han as art director. Yi Xiaoxing will direct and Huang Jianxing will be executive producer. The beverage company Wanglaoji will also reportedly invest $3.22 million in the production.

"By bringing Huang and Han and Yi on board we are giving the existing intellectual property more content to make it fuller and give it a longer life over time," Zhu tells THR.

Youku Tudou previously brought the Internet micro movie Old Boys to the silver screen, garnering more than $322.3 million in box office.

"What motivates me is the ability to make something new," said Huang. "I became emotionally involved in the web series and saw there are new formats and new ways of delivering emotional punches."