China’s Alibaba Commits $640 Million to Hong Kong Film, TV Development

Alibaba, China’s e-commerce and entertainment conglomerate, said Monday that it is committing HK$5 billion ($640 million) over five years to the development of Hong Kong’s film and TV industries.

The move was announced on the first day of FilMart, the annual rights market for the Asian industries, at an event attended by Fan Luyuan, chairman and CEO of Alibaba’s digital media and entertainment unit, and Kevin Yeung, the Hong Kong government’s secretary for culture, sports and tourism.

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Alibaba’s Hong Kong Cultural and Art Industry Revitalization Program “will focus on film production and distribution, rights acquisitions, TV series production, investments in concerts, collaboration with performance venues and talent development, etc. It will also work with leading local film and TV companies to co-produce films for cinemas, TV dramas and dramas for streaming platforms,” Yeung said.

He also expects Alibaba’s digital media unit to make Hong Kong its second headquarters. Alibaba Pictures, a subsidiary that includes some of Alibaba’s media assets, but excludes the Youku streaming platform, is already listed on the Hong Kong stock market.

It is expected that Alibaba will announce a mix of deals with a handful of Hong Kong companies during the course of FilMart. The plan is said to be the brainchild of Alibaba’s digital media and entertainment unit and Hong Kong firms including Edko Films, BenXiaoHai Media, Mandarin Motion Pictures, Huanxi Media Group, Media Asia Group, Universe Entertainment and Culture Group, Meiya Entertainment, One Cool Group, TVB, Shaw Brothers Pictures and Emperor Motion Pictures.

Alibaba will also fund scholarships for 20 filmmakers studying at the Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academy of Film.

Some of Alibaba’s HK$5 billion has already been earmarked for projects. Youku said it is backing TV dramas, including “Forensic Heroes VI: Redemption,” “The Heir to the Throne,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Prism Breaker,” “Fearless,” “Dark Chase,” “Behind the Queen of Yarn” and “Golden Era.”

Hong Kong feature film projects that will include Alibaba Pictures finance are “The Trier of Fact,” “The Last Dance,” both from One Cool Film, “Customs Frontline,” “In the Light of Dark,” “Behind the Scene,” “Invincible Swordsman,” “Without Remorse,” “Endless Battle 2,” “The Grey Men 2” and “My Date With a Vampire.”

Alibaba was previously an investor in Jack Ng’s 2023’s courtroom drama film “A Guilty Conscience,” which became Hong Kong’s highest-grossing Chinese-language movie of all time.

“Filmmakers who are rooted in the city’s culture, possess a blend of Eastern aesthetics and international perspective will be the key to maintaining our distinctive competitiveness in the global motion picture market,” said Alibaba Pictures’ president Jie Li.

“We will support a new generation of Hong Kong actors, allowing more creative talents from Hong Kong to thrive in Mainland China and provide greater opportunities for young talent, while at the same time, preserving and continuing Hong Kong’s unique pop culture,” Ying Xie, Youku’s VP, said at the trade show.

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