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Alibaba, Sony Pictures In Co-Financing Talks (EXCLUSIVE)

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma met with Sony Pictures leadership Tuesday to explore the possibility of co-financing movies, according to individuals with knowledge of the talks.

The films would be in both Chinese and English, but would be aimed at worldwide audiences. Discussions centered on partnering on two local language films, with Alibaba distributing in China and Sony rolling out the pictures to the rest of the globe. No deal has been signed as of yet.

Sony brass attending the meeting included Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group president Doug Belgrad, worldwide business affairs and administration chief Andrew Gumpert, and Dede Nickerson, who heads production and strategic development for Sony in China.

Sony has been firmly entrenched in the Chinese market since the 1990s. Nickerson is usually based in China but is currently in Los Angeles for meetings.

Ma and his associates from Alibaba Pictures are in Hollywood this week meeting with high level executives at several studios, including 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate, about potential content deals and partnerships. The Chinese e-commerce company raised $25 billion after going public last month and has $3 billion in commitments related to entertainment content. It has discussed buying a stake in Lionsgate, in addition to other entertainment investments.

On Monday, Ma spoke at the WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. where he said he was a film buff, predicted China will soon surpass the United States as the world’s largest film market and said he wanted to enhance the entertainment options available in his country.

A spokesman for Ma was not available for comment and a spokesperson for Sony declined to comment.

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