Losses at Alibaba Pictures Reach $53 Million

"Dearest" Film Review

Film production and investment company Alibaba Pictures Group recorded losses of US$53.5 million (HK$415 million) in 2014, compared with profits of US$24 million (HK$186 million) prior to its takeover by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant.

The previous year figures were restated to reflect mistreatment of mainland Chinese VAT certificates, deferred taxes, convertible debt notes and the value of film rights. In June last year Alibaba bought majority control of the company (previously known as Chinavision), and installed new management. In August, it discovered discrepancies, suspended Alibaba Pictures’ shares for several months and warned of losses.

Film revenues in the year came from minority equity stakes in films including Peter Chan’s “Dearest” and Ning Hao’s hit “breakup Buddies,” and from TV series “Bayonet Heroes.”

Under a five-picture deal with Wong Kar-wai’s company Block 2, development has started on “Bai Du Ren,” a film to be directed by novelist and first time filmmaker Zhang Jiajia.

Alibaba Pictures says it is working closely with the parent company. “Alibaba Group has commenced synergistic coordination with [Alibaba Pictures’] cultural, film and television entertainment-related resources and businesses, and has defined the [Alibaba Pictures] as the flagship unit of Alibaba Group’s entertainment business,” the company said in regulatory filing.

“[Alibaba Pictures] and Alibaba Group have commenced resource integration, and have explored a user-demand-oriented e-commerce customization model through the Internet and big data, in addition to developing a cross-industry in-depth cooperation model for e-commerce and cultural and creative industry by taking advantage of the deployment of O2O (online to offline) film related business in ways such as conducting promotion and marketing activities on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms.”

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