Internet giants move from behind the camera to front

By Xu Fan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-06-18 07:56:56

Internet giants move from behind the camera to front

Cast members (from left to right) Tong Dawei, Deng Jiajia and Wei Chen at a promotional event for the video-streaming website iQiyi's upcoming crime thriller Lost in White. [Photo/China Daily]

Since China's netsurfing population has snowballed to nearly 650 million, it's no surprise that the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival is overflowing with "Internet" labels.

As the earliest Chinese movie event to gain international attention back in the early 1990s, the festival is regarded by insiders as a trend indicator.

This year, after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang unveiled the new "Internet Plus" notion to encourage close cooperation between traditional industries and the Internet, the festival has reshaped the movie industry, which is 120 years old globally and 110 in China.

Most of the festival's forums are revolving around topics relevant to the digital giants' massive "invasion" of the giant screen, whether their themes focus on the Internet or not.

"BAT (an acronym for the Internet giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tecent) has established an entire ecosystem to reset the layout of the movie industry during the past year," says Yu Dong, president of Bona Film Group, at a forum at the festival.

The hot word "BAT" has gone viral since it was circulated after last year's festival in Shanghai, when Yu made his startling prediction that all Chinese film studios would eventually become subsidiaries of the three.

Bona produced 12 titles last year to bring in around 3 billion yuan ($484 million), accounting for around 10 percent of the 2014 total box office, and its comedy film The Man from Macao II topped the box office during the fiercely competed Spring Festival season earlier this year.

However, the high yields haven't eased worries, especially considering two other major privately owned entertainment companies, Huayi Brother and Enlight Media, have made Internet giants their second-largest shareholders.

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