Alibaba turns to blockchain to boost film industry

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 22, 2019
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Li Jie, senior vice president of Alibaba Pictures, speaks at the Forum on Chinese Film Investment and Development in the New Era, an event of the 28th China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival, held in Xiamen, Fujian province, Nov. 20, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Alibaba Pictures]

An executive said Alibaba Group is using new technologies such as blockchain to push forward the development of the Chinese film industry at a forum held on Wednesday during the ongoing China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival.

Li Jie, senior vice president of Alibaba Pictures and CEO of Alibaba's ticketing app Taopiaopiao, said that blockchain discussions are taking place within the film industry, and they are trying. 

Li believed that new technology needs a good business scenario; otherwise, it is just technology. Innovators need to find the right use for their technologies, which requires the whole industry, especially internet film companies, to work together to achieve that.

At the Forum on Chinese Film Investment and Development in the New Era, Li shared in detail the opportunities and challenges new technologies have brought to the film industry and made predictions and prospects for the driving force and increment potential of Chinese films. 

Top executives from film and finance companies exchange ideas on how the finance industry can help Chinese films at the Forum on Chinese Film Investment and Development in the New Era, an event of the 28th China Golden Rooster & Hundred Flowers Film Festival, held in Xiamen, Fujian province, Nov. 20, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Alibaba Pictures]

In the face of the current slowdown in China's box office revenue, Li said that under the current circumstance of the global film industry, China's box office growth rate is relatively good compared with other markets in the world. The real challenge for the film industry is attracting the public to watch a film rather than play online video games. People's viewing habits have changed drastically with the introduction of the internet. But he believed that every industry will experience and tackle changes brought about by new technologies.

Li pointed out that China's tentpole blockbusters could do extremely well during several particular film seasons such as Spring Festival, summer vacation, and National Day holiday. Some are able to bring in billions of yuan during these screening windows. In addition, compared to foreign countries, China's online ticketing sales account for 85% of all ticketing methods, while online ticketing sales in the United States account for less than 40%. This is also an example of how new technology drives the Chinese film market to maintain a relatively high growth rate. But anyhow the real driving force of Chinese films will always be the content.

"Why does Alibaba still choose to make films? Because the film industry has unparalleled influence. When we calculate the economic impact of the film industry, we should also calculate huge benefits and influence that movies bring to society and the relevant economies," he said, adding that Alibaba Pictures is also building new infrastructures and technology platforms for various aspects and links of the film industry to improve the efficiency of filmmakers and film business practitioners, as well as forming a long-term strategic cooperation with top film companies.

The forum on Chinese Film Investment and Development in the New Era is a place to discuss how to exploit financial innovations to help the Chinese film industry. La Peikang, vice president of China Film Association and former chairman of China Film Co., said in his speech that the Chinese film market has entered a new normal, which has miraculously maintained an annual growth rate of more than 30% at the box office gross in the past 15 years, becoming the fastest-growing film market in the world. 

"Since 2016, the Chinese film market has gradually returned to rationality and calmness from the primitive, irrational, and even gambling boom. The box office triumph will no longer be decided by the budget, franchise and actors' stardom, but rather on the film quality and how it resonates with people," he said.

In the view of Fan Wenzhong, chairman of Beijing Financial Holdings Group, capital is a big driving force for film development, but it is also a risk factor. Some current film business models have high financial risks and limited self-hematopoietic capacity. He suggested that the integration of film and finance should focus on expanding the sources of funds, introducing the necessary risk dispersion mechanism, and constantly improving the system norms. 

The 28th China Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival opened on Tuesday and will run until Nov. 23, when the Golden Rooster Awards will be presented. 

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