The move is a first for the studio, which said that the opening expands its ongoing global reorientation and international presence.
Gu has been in the licensing industry for nearly 15 years, with previous roles in China at Disney, Nike, and Mattel. She will report to both Joseph Liao, chief marketing officer Beijing, and Jamie Stevens, EVP worldwide consumer products.
“From a box-office standpoint and an ancillary business perspective, China has become increasingly important to the growth and long-term vision of our intellectual property, and in managing a brand’s life cycle. As Sony Pictures broadens the global appeal of its film and television properties in a substantial way, our new China-based licensing office will support that growth,” said Stevens. “Now more than ever, there is a world of opportunity in China for consumer products, which Gu will help to realize.”
Sony titles recently released in China include “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” which grossed $25.1 million, and “Passengers,” which grossed $45.3 million.
Rival studio Disney has long been established as a major consumer goods player in China.
In an unrelated move, Alibaba Pictures Group, the film division of e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced a merchandising deal with Pokemon Company.
A range of official Pokemon merchandise, including clothing , home appliances, and decorative items are available on Alibaba’s retail channel Tmall. APG will support the sales and has already launched an offline exhibition and interactive space for Pokemon in Hangzhou’s Intime City, in time for the Children’s Day festivities.
Last year’s worldwide smash hit augmented-reality game Pokemon Go was not allowed in China for what authorities said were reasons of national security reasons.