‘Biz Development’ Tag
China’s Wanda to Spend $1.2 Billion on Beverly Hills Entertainment HQ
Hong Kong, August 13th (Hollywood Reporter)

The real estate giant, and owners of AMC Theaters, will keep its U.S. commercial business in New York but is bullish on the prospects for its Wilshire site.

China’s Wanda Group will spend $1.2 billion to develop its Hollywood presence after it won a bid for a plot of land at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, for the HQ of its U.S. entertainment business.

“The Los Angeles project will serve as the Wanda Group’s first important step into Hollywood,” the group said in a statement on its website.

Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin is China’s richest individual and in 2012 he bought the AMC theater chain for $2.6 billion.

The company said the Beverly Hills facility was also expected to help China’s entry into Hollywood’s film industry and generally promote Chinese culture abroad.

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Source: Hollywood Reporter

Alibaba launches entertainment investment fund
Beijing, March 26th (Reuters)

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the world’s biggest e-commerce company, will launch a fund that allows customers to invest in entertainment products, the company said on Wednesday, as it expands its financial services platform.

The product, called “Yu Le Bao” or “entertainment treasure” in English, lets people deposit a minimum of 100 yuan ($16.12) using their smartphones. The funds will then be invested in film, television programme and online game projects through insurance and wealth management products offered by Guohua Life, a Shanghai-based life insurance company.

The move comes however, as China’s banks and regulators move to impose limits and rules on the country’s emerging Internet finance sector, which could constrain the sector’s growth.

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Source: Reuters

Foreign film studios see slow progress in China
Beijing, March 17th (Want China Times)

Six major US film studios have set their sights on mainland China, but they appear to know little about the market despite sending individuals to China two decades ago to discover and build an entertainment system similar to Hollywood, reports the Shanghai-based China Business News.

NBC Universal, the parent company of Universal Studios, announced in November last year that it will establish an independent office and pursue more co-productions in China, while Warner Bros has seen success in China by importing films such as the 1993 US thriller The Fugitive, and most recently the sleeper hit Gravity.

As the studios first tried to establish themselves in China many years ago, the paper interviewed a number of individuals about their experiences working in the Chinese market, as well as what they thought about Hollywood’s past and future in China

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Source: Want China Times

In the Global Movie Business, China Aims for a Starring Role
Philadelphia, October 29th (knowledge.wharton)

Chinese Titan Takes Aim at Hollywood,” said a New York Times report last month, referring to the plans of Wang Jianlin, China’s wealthiest investor and founder of the $30 billion real estate group Dalian Wanda, to build a movie-themed real estate project in the upscale seaside town of Qingdao. Price tag: 50 billion Yuan ($8 billion). “It is estimated that China’s film box office revenue will surpass North America’s by 2018 and will double it by 2023 — that is why I believe the future of the world’s film industry is in China,” the Times quoted Wang as saying.

Hollywood has suffered declining fortunes with the death of video stores, the rise of distribution on the web, higher production costs and piracy, among other woes. Meanwhile, China’s box office is showing big gains — but not for all players. A recent report in Variety magazine says ticket sales this year for local Chinese films increased 144% to $1.12 billion, while imported films saw a 21% slump to $670 million, despite the relaxing of quotas.

Could a country best known for low-cost manufacturing take on the creative genius of Hollywood? “China’s movie market is growing, but it cannot match Hollywood’s,” says Wharton marketing professor Qiaowei Shen. Adds Wharton professor of operations and information management Jehoshua Eliashberg: “While the Chinese movie business stands to gain from the huge local market, it is not obvious that the content they produce there has a global appeal.”

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Source: knowledge.wharton

Murdoch Moves Ahead in India and Retreats in China
Hong Kong, October 22nd (Businessweek)

It’s become a familiar story for Rupert Murdoch: An advance in India, a retreat in China. The billionaire has become a major force in the Indian entertainment world, with 21st Century Fox’s (FOXA) Star India subsidiary broadcasting over more than 20 channels in local languages such as Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali. While Star has expanded in India, Fox has had no such luck in China, where Murdoch has failed to overcome resistance from the TV regulators wary of foreigners.

Developments over the past few days illustrate the different directions for Murdoch in Asia’s two giants. Just days after Murdoch unloaded his remaining stake in a Chinese satellite television operator that once promised entry into the China market, his Indian TV company announced a partnership with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries (RL:IN) and talent agency IMG Worldwide to reach Indian soccer fans with the launch of the Indian Super League. “Our objective is nothing short of creating a movement around football in India,” Star India Chief Executive Officer Uday Shankar said in a statement. “We want to put India on the global map.”

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Source: Businessweek

The 6th China International Games & Amusement Fair
Zhongshan, October 21st (China Exhibition)

Almost one-third of China’s theme parks were opened within the past two years, and plans for more than 30 new parks have been announced, according to Chris Yoshii, a Hong Kong-based expert for consulting firm AECOM. AECOM forecasts that China (including Hong Kong) will overtake the USA in total theme park visits by 2020.

China’s growing middle class considers a theme park visit, which typically costs between US$24 and US$31 for an adult weekend pass, to be an increasingly affordable and desirable activity, according to Yoshii. The Smurfs, Hello Kitty and Angry Birds are among several foreign cartoon characters whose owners plan China theme parks. The massive growth makes China a major market for the amusement industry at large, and a majority of key players have already opened offices in the country.

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Source: China Exhibition

Some thoughts about the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone
Shanghai, October 1st (Economist)

The Shanghai Free-Trade Zone
A damp squib

FOR weeks now, pundits and politicians have been talking excitedly about the coming Shanghai Free Trade Zone (SFTZ). Li Keqiang, China’s prime minister, has personally championed this initiative, which he has indicated will kickstart his new government’s broader plans to liberalise China’s economy.

Li Ka-shing, a Hong Kong tycoon who is Asia’s richest man, claimed that the SFTZ could propel Shanghai past Hong Kong to become the country’s chief financial centre. Punters gobbled up shares of any Chinese firms with the word “Shanghai” in their name (absurdly including underwear makers) confident that the zone would boost their fortunes. Netizens were positively aflutter when rumours surfaced that the Great Firewall, which blocks access to the unfettered internet, would be suspended in the promised land.

The wait is over. Chinese authorities have at last launched the SFTZ formally, and issued a set of guidelines. They continue to insist that this is a landmark event, on par with the creation of the Shenzhen special economic zone over three decades ago—a breakthrough that helped usher in liberal economic reforms and three decades of spectacular growth. At a press event held in Shanghai on September 29th, officials used the word “innovation” 43 times as they gushed about how this experiment would help China. The new government wants to transform the economy from the sweatshop to the world into a global innovation powerhouse.

So is the SFTZ really the next Shenzen? It is too early to tell, not least because Chinese reformers have a habit of starting slowly out of the gate, but the signs thus far are unpromising.

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Source: Economist

China: Nation’s answer to Hollywood rising on eastern coast
Qingdao, October 1st (China Daily)

Local leaders of Qingdao aim to transform the coastal city in Shandong province into China’s answer to Hollywood.

To this end, the world’s biggest movie studio project was launched in the city on Sept 22.

With an investment from property and entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group of 30 billion yuan (almost $5 billion), the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis will be a mega-industrial park that performs multiple functions.

It will consist of filmmaking studios and exhibitions as well as other cultural and tourism facilities, such as museums, hotels and yacht clubs.

The launch ceremony of the project was attended by more than 60 celebrities, including Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Catherine Zeta-Jones, John Travolta and Nicole Kidman as well as A-list Chinese stars like Zhang Ziyi and Jet Li.

“Qingdao is full of amazing natural scenery, has a distinctive modern urban vista and is home to a rich accumulation of historical resources,” said Li Qun, Party chief of Qingdao, at a recent film industry forum. “In addition, it has been crowned as the ‘World Architecture Exhibition’ as well as the ‘Natural Movie Studio’.”

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Source: China Daily

Window of opportunity on the entertainment stage
Beijing, August 5th (China Daily)

Marcel Fenez, global entertainment and media leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, says China’s urbanization is creating an increasingly affluent middle class keen on art and entertainment activities.

He says this has also been helped by the growth of entertainment facilities in urban centers such as cinemas and theme parks, which would not have been economical in less concentrated rural areas.

At the same time, broadband connectivity is allowing people in smaller cities and more rural areas to enjoy entertainment activities such as watching TV programs on the Internet, or playing games, he says.

Fenez says this growth will create many opportunities for foreign companies because they have an advantage in delivering such content, particularly in sectors such as films, television shows, theme parks and exhibitions.

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Source: China Daily

Hong Kong’s UA, Emperor Strike Deal to Build Cinemas in China
Hong Kong, March 13th (Hollywood Reporter)

Emperor Motion Pictures and UA Cinemas have announced a strategic alliance to construct and operate cinemas in the mainland China, with the first site in Foshan slated for an opening in early 2014.

The 12-screen venue, which is part of the Nanhai VivoCity complex in the city in the Guangdong province, is designed to seat 1,500 viewers and will be followed by cinemas in Dongguan, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chongqing and Shanghai, according to a joint statement released by the companies on Wednesday.

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Source: Hollywood Reporter

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