Yulebao, a fan-driven fund controlled by China’s Alibaba, has struck a series of merchandising agreements with multinational groups including Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Japan’s Tsuburaya Productions.
At a fan and press event in Shanghai this week, it also revealed a trio of content deals with local talent.
Crowd funding in the Western sense of the term is not permitted in China, but low-ticket, mass funding operations are possible and Alibaba’s fan funding unit Yulebao has previously raised millions from small investors and invested in movie, TV and music projects.
In its most recent funding round it raised RMB30 million in a matter of hours for four film/TV projects, “No Other Love;” “Three Lives Three Worlds Ten Miles of Peach Blossom;” “Rise of The Rice Cooker,” and the Renny Harlin-directed project “Legend of the Ancient Sword.”
This week the company said that it was backing Tiger Hu, a musician and the founder of the New Band app; SNH48, a highly popular female idol group; and Jerry Li Chen, the founder of fashion brand NPC. “Centring on these Dream Partners, Yulebao will develop tailor-made events for fans and celebrity-derivative products,” the company said.
With the multinationals Alibaba Pictures Group will co-operate on development and merchandising around five ‘super intellectual properties:’ “Ice Age: Collision Course;” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows;” “Star Trek Beyond;” “Ultraman;” and “The Voice of China.”
As China’s largest e-commerce business and one of its largest entertainment conglomerates, Alibaba has the ability to support brands and content at multiple stages. In April this year, Alibaba Pictures opened its official flagship stores on Tmall and Taobao,. These engage mainly in selling merchandise — action figures and from anime, comic and games — derived from movies and TV. These stores have become a significant source of the online traffic for Yulebao.
“In the case of animations such as “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, we will focus on the design and production of sports and digital products based on big data analysis,” Yu Wei, VP of Alibaba Pictures and GM of Yulebao, said.
The deals were signed by Tara Yin, GM of Paramount’s China office, Sirena Liu, MD of China for Twentieth Century Fox, Tetsuya Shigematsu, president of Tsuburaya Productions, and Deng Kangming, COO of Alibaba Pictures.