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China’s Alibaba To Invest $640M In Hong Kong Content Industry; Signs Strategic Partnership With Media Asia

Chinese tech and media giant Alibaba is investing $640M (HK$5BN) into Hong Kong’s creative industries over the next five years.

The funding will come via multiple divisions in Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group, including Alibaba Pictures and streaming platform Youku.

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The plan, called the “Hong Kong Cultural and Art Industry Revitalisation Program,” is a joint initiative of Alibaba and leading Hong Kong production companies including Edko Films, Mandarin Motion Pictures, Media Asia, Universe Entertainment, One Cool Group, Shaw Brothers and Emperor Motion Pictures.

Beijing-headquartered Alibaba Pictures also said it would make Hong Kong its second headquarters. The film outfit will also fund scholarships for 20 filmmakers studying at the Hong Kong Baptist University Academy of Film.

“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 Li Jie.

“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,” said Youku Vice President Xie Ying.

The investment was announced at an event on the first day of Filmart, attended by Fan Luyuan, Chairman and CEO of Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group, and Hong Kong government officials.

Some of the $640M has already been earmarked for projects. Youku is backing TV dramas including Forensic Heroes VI: Redemption, The Heir To The Throne, Darkside Of The Moon, Prism Breaker, Fearless, Dark Chase Behind The Queen Of Yarn and Golden Era.

Meanwhile, Alibaba Pictures is investing in Hong Kong films and dramas including: The Trier Of Fact, The Last Dance, Customs Frontline, In The Light Of Dark, Time Still Turns The Pages, Invincible Swordsman, Without Remorse, Endless Battle 2, The Grey Men 2 and My Date With A Vampire.

Later in the day, Alibaba announced a strategic partnership with Media Asia to “promote the development of young artists, endorse the economic and cultural prosperity of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, nurture a new generation of stars, promote talent development, and inject new vitality and creativity into the cultural and entertainment sectors.”

The partnership involves a joint venture for new directors, which is co-financing projects including mystery thriller Behind The Scene, directed by David Lee Kwong Yiu and produced by Andrew Lau; Born Evil Seed, directed by Nick Cheuk (Time Still Turns The Pages); and The Other One from Fung Chih Chiang (A Witness Out Of The Blue).

The two companies also announced two co-productions: Zhang Mo’s In the Light Of Dark, about a trio of young people “fighting a dark force in troubled times”, and Wang Jing’s Fading Tracks, adapted from Hu Yanyun’s popular mystery novel.

Other upcoming projects presented at the event included Soi Cheang’s Twilight Of The Warriors: Walled In; Chen Sicheng’s Decode, starring Liu Haoran; the third installment of the Sheep Without A Shepherd series, produced by Soi Cheang and directed by newcomer Jacky Gan; and TV series Modern Dynasty: The Heir To The Throne and Fortune Hunters in partnership with Youku.

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