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Shanghai-based Linmon Pictures is preparing to go where few major Chinese TV studios venture — overseas.
On the second day of Hong Kong’s Filmart entertainment convention, the premium TV producer unveiled an ambitious plan for a slate of local-language TV projects targeting the Korean, Thai, Indonesian and Taiwanese markets. The company says it will produce at least 10 non-Chinese TV series for the Asia-Pacific region in the next two to three years.
The domestic Chinese TV audience is so enormous that few local private studios have bothered pursuing neighboring countries’ far smaller entertainment markets in any meaningful and consistent way. Linmon’s CEO Yuan Zhou says he began contemplating getting more involved internationally after Linmon began receiving a growing number of offers for remake rights from production companies from around the region.
“We’ve had a lot of demand from international platforms and distributors for our Chinese-language series,” Zhou says. “But we’ve started to believe that there is a big opportunity for us not only to distribute our content abroad, but to collaborate and make local-language content for other markets too.”
Last year, Linmon sold two seasons of its romantic drama series Twenty Your Life On to Netflix for distribution in territories outside mainland China. The show has proven a hit in Chinese-speaking territories, ranking in Netflix’s top 10 in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, as well as in countries in Southeast Asia with large Chinese diaspora populations. Netflix also scooped up Linmon’s period drama Legend of Fu Yao, which landed in the streamer’s top 10 in Korea. Disney+, meanwhile, acquired the company’s romance show A Little Mood for Love and is streaming it now in Southeast Asian markets.
Zhou acknowledges that the market opportunity in Asian countries outside China is comparatively small, but he says he believes the upside of directly collaborating with other industry talent and storytelling expertise will yield significant benefits for his company’s productions in all areas. The company is looking to Korea’s success in boosting its production prowess to attract global audiences as a model.
“Many Chinese producers say, ‘Why would you go abroad to make a Thai-language show for only 18 million people?’ I don’t see the market this way,” Zhou says. “There is a strong creative community in all of these countries, so we want to leverage our financing and IP to work with talent all around the region to create a more integrated pan-Asian market.”
Linmon will begin shooting a Thai remake of its drama series Nothing But Thirty later this year. The show follows three urban women who have just turned 30 as they face the dilemmas and challenges of dealing with the competing demands of love, work and family — themes Linmon believes will resonate across Asia’s increasingly cosmopolitan entertainment markets. The company is developing local-language remakes of the same property for Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Vietnam.
With the major global streamers competing fiercely for subscribers in Southeast Asia — one of the globe’s few major population centers where the premium streaming video business is still growing at a steady clip — Linmon should have little trouble finding buyers if it can deliver its local-language shows with the same high production standards it is known for in China.
Other International projects unveiled by Linmon in Hong Kong included a Thai remake of its hit crime thriller series Under the Skin.
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