HONG KONG – Tencent, the giant Chinese Internet firm which operates WeChat and the QQ messaging service, has unveiled plans to become a film producer.
Its new unit Tencent Movies+ has a slate of seven feature films in development. One is an adaptation of “Treasure Map,” a novella by Nobel Prize-winner Mo Yan. The other six are film derivatives of online games and cartoons hosted on its platforms, including one called “Timi Run Everyday.”
The move allows the company to expand revenues from its intellectual property assets and to sell more content to its huge user base, which counts 60 million daily users. Tencent expects to make four or five films per year.
The move comes in addition to an announcement in June that Tencent would invest in six local Chinese pictures.
Tencent is also a major investor in Huayi Brothers Media, China’s leading private sector film conglomerate. Last month it announced that it would join forces with Wanda and search giant Baidu to move into the e-commerce space currently dominated by Alibaba.
The launch of Tencent Movies+ also steps up the competition between the major technology groups. Alibaba has become a major force in the Chinese film industry through a series of acquisitions, which include a 20% stake in video platform Youku Tudou, and Baidu, which is owner of another video group iQiyi.
“We have seen the potential of China’s film industry,” Tencent vice president Cheng Wu told Chinese publication 21st Century Business Herald.
The company previously backed “Roco Kingdom,” an animated series adapted from one of its games, and “Dragon Nest” a $20 million animated feature drawn from another game.