You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China’s Alibaba Seeks New Hollywood Finance Role

SHANGHAI — Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is seeking a greater role in Hollywood film finance.

The company is looking to Yule Bao (aka “Entertainment Treasure”), an existing financial product that is similar to crowd-funding, to enable it to invest in Hollywood movies.

Yule Bao was launched last year in China and through 13 funding rounds has raised over RMB560 million ($91 million) from members of the public. The proceeds have been used to made investments into some 20 movies and TV shows to date.

“We hope that Yu Le Bao will become an international platform to allow Chinese users to invest in projects they are interested in. We are discussing with a few Hollywood producers to see how users can invest in their projects through the Yule Bao platform,” said Patrick Liu Chunning, head of Alibaba Digital Entertainment.

Currently the regulatory environment in China covers everything the company is doing under Yule Bao. But to take it further would require the legal framework to be updated. Liu spoke about working through informal channels and the legal process to make that a reality.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma was known last year to have held investment talks with Sony Pictures Entertainment and was believed to have spoken to other studios including Lionsgate.

Liu said that Yule Bao’s current China operations have multiple ambitions, which mirror crowd-funding’s marketing and brand-building functions. Aside from building a film production slate, other aspects include a corporate social responsibility approach enabling Alibaba to support and develop particular talent. Another aim is new talent discovery. A fourth ambition is to use Yule Bao as part of the glue that holds together Alibaba’s fast evolving range of entertainment investments and inhouse activities.

Liu said that Yule Bao’s fan investors might be given priority tickets through the Taobao ticketing system or be early adopters of the yet-to-be-launched home entertainment platform T-Mall Box Office.

Liu was in Shanghai this week where Alibaba and Yule Bao held a number of events on the fringes of the Shanghai International Film Festival. On Sunday, Alibaba Digital Entertainment and Yule Bao held a fan event enabling small investors to be in touch with the stars and shows that they had backed.

On Saturday, Alibaba Digital Entertainment presented an award to actress and style icon Fan Bingbing as recognition of the business she had driven to Alibaba’s shopping platforms. Last year some 2.7 million searches were made for Fan Bingbing and fashion through home shopping venue Taobao. That in turn drove RMB500 million ($81.3 million) in business.

More Biz

  • Keli LeeStep Up Women Network 9th

    Keli Lee Exits ABC Studios International as Disney Considers Division's Fate (EXCLUSIVE)

    ABC veteran Keli Lee has left the international arm of ABC Studios as Disney considers the future of the London-based content unit, Variety has learned. Sources said Disney has told the creative community that there “has been a re-evaluation of ABC Studios International” and that it is re-assessing “the creative direction” of the business. There [...]

  • Biggest Scandals Feuds and Apologies of

    Biggest Scandals, Feuds and Apologies of 2019

    Variety looks back on some of the biggest scandals, feuds and apologies of 2019: College Admissions Scandal Wealthy parents including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged with bribing school officials to get their unqualified kids into prestigious universities. Shane Gillis Executives at “SNL” hired, then fired, Gillis in September, before the new season started, [...]

  • Biggest Media Moments of 2019

    From 'Catch & Kill' to Shepard Smith: The Biggest Media Moments of 2019

    Variety looks back on some of the most memorable media events of 2019: ‘Catch & Kill’ Reopens Wounds at NBC News Ronan Farrow’s book relitigates his complaints that NBC News tried to tamp down his investigation of harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. NBC News denies the claim. The book contains new allegations against [...]

  • Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division nominee

    DOJ Sides With Irving Azoff Against Radio Stations

    The Department of Justice is taking sides in another hot-button antitrust battle, this time siding with Irving Azoff’s upstart music licensing firm against a group representing 10,000 radio stations. The DOJ Antitrust Division filed a brief on Thursday arguing that the Radio Music License Committee may have engaged in illegal price-fixing when it refused to [...]

  • Best Books of 2019

    The Best Books of 2019

    Whether you experience stressful days due to your professional position, your demanding family, or simply the barrage of never-ending depressing news, there is often no better way to unwind than with a good book. Letting your imagination wander into a new world unlike your own can be exciting, it can be thought-provoking, but perhaps most [...]

  • Makan Delrahim

    Antitrust Experts Decry DOJ's 'Outrageous' Stance in Writers Guild Case

    Several experts on antitrust law have expressed concern at the stance taken by the Department of Justice in the ongoing legal feud between Hollywood writers and their agents. Three agencies have sued the Writers Guild of America for alleged violations of antitrust law. A key hearing will be held in federal court on Friday, as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content