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China’s LeTV Hires Zhang Yimou, Tsui Hark To Sell Smart Phones

Top film directors Tsui Hark and Zhang Yimou will make video content for LeTV, the Chinese online video group as it moves further into the e-commerce business.

The directors, along with TV producer Zheng Xiaolong, will provide buyers of new LeTV-branded smart phones with exclusive or privileged access to TV shows and movies.

The announcement was made in grand style at a launch event Tuesday in Beijing’s MasterCard Arena.

Tsui Hark, who was Hong Kong-trained, has lately become one of China’s most successful directors, having shot the “Detective Dee” franchise and recently delivered blockbuster “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.”

Zhang Yimou joined LeTV’s film-making affiliate LeVision Pictures as artistic advisor in 2013 and last year directed “Coming Home” for the company. LeVision Pictures is a minority investor in Zhang’s upcoming “The Great Wall” being produced by Legendary Entertainment China offshoot Legendary East.

LeTV begun selling smart phones earlier this year in a move spearheaded by Feng Xing, a former VP at Lenovo. Its LeTV Mobile company even boasts its own operating system, LeOS for Mobile, which it describes as “the first systematic content and service operation system in China.

“LeOS for Mobile seamlessly incorporates LeTV services, contents, applications and devices, providing users with a unique one-stop Internet experience,” it claims.

Further underlining the growing overlap between film, online video platforms and e-commerce, a space that is already inhabited by Alibaba, LeTV last year begun selling smart TV sets. In its first year it sold 1.5 million, and said that sales of 4 million is its target for 2015.

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