×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Shanghai Festival: Chinese Film Studios Rethink Growth Strategy as Challenges Loom

Five movie studios and one Internet giant lined up on stage Sunday in Shanghai, seemingly seeking to develop a sense of urgency that goads the film industry to bigger and better things. But whether they were all on the same side was moot.

“Consolidation is on its way,” said Ren Zhonglun, CEO of state-backed Shanghai Film Group. “Large companies will be the ones which are best able to withstand the high levels of risk in the film industry.”

“We need to have a sense of crisis, challenges are coming,” said James Wang, co-head of private sector conglomerate Huayi Brothers. His company has sought to manage risk by diversification into theme parks, live entertainment and music.

Yu Dong, chairman of Bona Film Group, pointed to the example of Hollywood and said that the Chinese industry needs to reduce the influence of directors, and company founders (like himself), to become more producer driven. “China has the opportunity in the next five years not only to overtake Hollywood but to become more professional.”

Wang Changtian, CEO of Enlight, pointed to multiple worries. “The crisis now is a slowdown of capital inflow. Banks and stock markets are getting nervous about film companies, making loans harder to obtain, and secondary share issues harder to launch,” he said. “Government is cancelling tax breaks for film, and exhibitors have lowest rentals in the world.”

In private, many of the same executives have pointed to the double-edged influence of China’s tech giants, which seem en route to dominating the film industry through their powerful online ecosystems that connect directly with consumers, their access to data, and their colossal financial resources. E-commerce giant, Alibaba is now an equity shareholder in Enlight, Bona and Huayi, as well as owning stakes in exhibition and finance companies.

Fan Luyuan, head of Alibaba Digital Entertainment Group, was careful to promote himself as a modest newcomer, and to position Alibaba as a facilitator, rather than a voracious rival to the traditional film companies. “We are a platform company,” he said. But even his attempts at sounding friendly, sounded ominous. Alibaba’s Yulebao is “powerful finance tool for the film industry,” he said. And said that  Alibaba’s array of streaming, ticketing and marketing companies constitutes a “powerhouse of film distribution.”

More Film

  • Night scenery of the Bund in

    Shanghai: Festivals Grapple With How to Stay Relevant in the Digital Era

    Festival organizers from around the world on Tuesday discussed the challenges of remaining relevant in a digital era at a Shanghai International Film Festival forum. The Festival do Rio’s executive director Ilda Santiago noted that online platforms are now an unavoidable part of the film business and creative process, and that “of course not all [...]

  • Kiernan Shipka and Ross LynchMTV Movie

    MTV Movie & TV Awards: What You Didn't See on TV

    Many of the biggest stars in movies and television — including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Kiernan Shipka, Sandra Bullock, Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson — came together to present and receive honors at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards, hosted by “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi. And while non-attendees are able to enjoy [...]

  • Johnny BananasMTV Movie & TV Awards,

    'The Challenge' Veteran Crashes MTV Awards Acceptance Speech; Cut From Broadcast

    Johnny “Bananas” Devenanzio pulled a Kanye West at Saturday’s taping of the MTV Movie & TV awards when “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” won over “The Challenge” in the Reality Royalty category. However, viewers didn’t get to see it. Producers of the show cut out Devenanzio’s speech from Monday’s airing, after the reality star took [...]

  • Zachary LeviMTV Movie & TV Awards,

    MTV Movie & TV Awards Winners: The Complete List

    The MTV Movie & TV Awards returned to television Monday, with host Zachary Levi and a number of pop culture favorites. Dominating this year’s nominations with four apiece were front runners “Avengers: Endgame,” which took home the evening’s best movie award, and “Game of Thrones,” which won best show. The Oscar-nominated documentary “RBG” also scored [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Jon Ham Richard Jewell

    Olivia Wilde, Jon Hamm Join Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Olivia Wilde and Jon Hamm have joined the cast of Clint Eastwood’s already star-studded drama “Richard Jewell.” Paul Walter Hauser is set to star as the titular Jewell in Warner Bros.’ pic alongside Sam Rockwell as Jewell’s attorney and Kathy Bates as Jewell’s mother. The drama is based on Marie Brenner’s article in Vanity Fair [...]

  • Where the Wind Blows

    Hong Kong's 'Where the Wind Blows' Sidesteps Protests For China Promo

    Hong Kong film director Philip Yung and his cast were in Shanghai on Monday to promote their upcoming film “Where the Wind Blows.” They revealed new details while cautiously sidestepping — for the most part — the awkward issue of last week’s massive civil protests in Hong Kong against a controversial bill that would have [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content