×

Chinese Hit ‘Tiny Times’ Taps Internet Generation Via Audience Research

Pic from 30-year-old novelist-turned first-time producer-director Guo Jingming has divided critics and won surprising plaudits

The film that has garnered the most attention this year in China is the June release “Tiny Times,” a homegrown picture that has been likened to “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Sex and the City.” Made by 30-year-old novelist-turned first-time producer-director Guo Jingming, the film has divided critics and won surprising plaudits as it delivers an aspirational, almost “greed is good” message lapped up by millions.

Its producer-distributor Zhang Zhao says the film and its marketing campaign were shaped by big data and executed via social media.

This emphasis on market research and audience forecasting is growing in the Chinese film biz. New research companies, such as Entdigital, formed a year ago by a former Sina.com executive, are emerging. The company claims 85% accuracy in predicting box office by tapping into users of Weibo (China’s hugely successful equivalent of Twitter), Renren (the Chinese Facebook) and Douban, an entertainment-skewed social network.

SEE ALSO: Film Review: ‘Tiny Times’

China is well-suited for big-data number crunchers. It’s become a nation of home shoppers where everything from a hamburger to a car can be bought online. According to Hangzhou-based e-Business Research, online retail in China grew 43% to $123 billion in the first six months of this year.

TV-film production house Zhejiang Huace recently announced the biggest acquisition in the sector when it unveiled a $269 million takeover of 10-year-old data-cruncher Shanghai Croton Media.

Guo’s understanding of the audience through data meant he had a sequel ready that was quickly released in August, while third and fourth installments are expected to compete in summer 2014 and 2015.

Zhang made “Tiny Times” and “Tiny Times 2.0” on a combined budget of $8.2 million. The two films spoke to a group that hadn’t been addressed before by a Chinese movie, he maintains. “There has never before been a commercial film for youth,” Zhang says. “These are the kids that normally watch all their films on the Internet. We knew they were there.”

SEE ALSO: China’s Richest Writer Guo Jingming’s Film Depicts a New China

Zhang is in a good position to know. His Le Vision Pictures, which last year invested in “Expendables II” and recently hired Zhang Yimou as its artistic director, is the film production offshoot of LeTV, one of China’s successful online video companies.

Zhang says the company taps into more than 100 million Weibo followers for suggestions to determine the director and stars of the films; author Guo alone has some 20 million followers thanks largely to his books, which have sold some 4 million copies, skewing to the 15- to 25-year-old bracket.

Zhang embarked on what he calls O-2-O (short for “online to offline”) marketing aimed at enticing into the cinema a young generation not used to the theatrical experience.

More Biz

  • Dau

    'Dau' Director Defends Controversial Russian Competition Film: 'It's not Hollywood'

    “Dau. Natasha,” the Russian art project-turned-movie franchise competing at the Berlinale, has triggered headlines in the local and international press over the years due to its epic scale, scenes of graphic violence and anecdotes of an allegedly oppressive work environment for women. Hours before the film’s premiere at a presser on Wednesday, Ilya Khrzhanovsky, who [...]

  • The Spanish Princess Starz

    Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch Lifts Lid on Local Originals Drive for SVOD Starzplay

    Starz CEO Jeffrey Hirsch has outlined the local originals strategy for Starzplay, revealing that a slate of shows are being planned out of the Middle East and India as the business looks to complement its U.S. and English-language pipeline of content. Speaking at the Berlinale Series Market and Conference on Wednesday, the executive told Variety that the [...]

  • YGRolling Loud SOCAL, Los Angeles, USA

    YG’s 4Hunnid Label Strikes Joint Venture With Epic Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Compton rapper YG today unveiled a joint venture between his 4Hunnid label and Epic Records. The Sony Music company will exclusively release, distribute and market new music from the rapper’s Los Angeles-based independent label. The first release from the partnership is scheduled to come from Compton female rapper Day Sulan, who was featured on YG’s [...]

  • Bob Iger and Bob Chapek Disney

    How Disney Veteran Bob Chapek Emerged From Dark-Horse Status to Take CEO Job

    When the final act came in the corporate succession drama that has captivated Hollywood for years, it turned out that Bob Chapek was the logical candidate who was hiding in plain sight the whole time. The news that Chapek would succeed Bob Iger as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. hit the entertainment industry like [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content