×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China Film Marketing Firms Must Adapt to Internet Age, Says Huayi’s Jerry Ye

Huayi Brothers Pictures CEO and media group VP Jerry Ye made no mention Sunday of the abrupt cancellation of the premiere of his firm’s highly anticipated war epic, “The Eight Hundred,” which was set to be the Shanghai Intl. Film Festival’s opening film the night before.

Instead, Ye looked to the future at a panel on big studio film production, warning of the “subversive changes” the Internet is bringing to the Chinese film market. New online practices will wipe out 50% to 60% of existing publicity and distribution firms within years if they don’t “follow the trend” and learn to adapt, he predicted.

“Unlike the steady North America market, the Chinese market moves much faster. Chinese e-commerce has developed rapidly, with online ticketing platforms making up 90% of China [movie ticket] sales, meaning that our audience reach depends on the online platforms,” Ye said. The challenge is that users interact with different platforms in very different ways, meaning that “their behaviors are increasingly fragmented, and their entertainment habits constantly in flux.”

“I think this will have a real disruptive impact within five years, bringing about a fundamental change” to film publicity and distribution, he said. “One of the early slogans of e-commerce was that its existence cuts out the middleman, and it’s the same nowadays for film.”

Yet China’s fast-paced Internet entertainment ecosystem also brings opportunities. “Our market is more vibrant than the North America market because in China, the core group of those who watch movies in theaters is the same as those who watch movies online. These are two totally separate crowds in the U.S. This can be a very powerful force.”

One of the most important players in Chinese film marketing these days is Alibaba Pictures, an offshoot of e-commerce giant Alibaba. The subsidiary operates as a producer-financier, distributor and marketing services provider. And its Tao Piao Piao unit is one of China’s two largest online ticketing vendors. Earlier in the day, Fan Luyuan, head of Alibaba Pictures, described his company as a “service company to small and medium enterprises.”

Wanda Media GM Jiang Wei said producers needed to do more to improve their own work in order to meet increasingly sophisticated audience demands and ensure that the Chinese film industry’s market growth doesn’t outpace its abilities.

“The film market has grown along with the growing number of viewers,  so your investment returns perhaps look great as well, and people are quite pleased with that,” Jiang said. “But on many basic issues we’re still very far behind. We have to improve a lot of production-related elements, whether that’s screenwriting, production processes, technical know-how or technological developments in order to keep up with the market’s development. This is what I’m going to be paying the most attention to in the next three to five years.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Issa Rae Portrait

    Issa Rae Developing Remake of Crime Thriller 'Set It Off'

    “Insecure” star and co-creator Issa Rae is in early development on a remake of New Line’s crime thriller “Set If Off,” which starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Vivica Fox and Kimberly Elise. Rae will produce with plans to star in the remake. Syreeta Singleton and Nina Gloster have been hired to pen the script. [...]

  • Thomas Golubic8th Annual Guild of Music

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Film News Roundup: Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South' Bought for Awards Season Release

    In today’s film news roundup, the documentaries “Gay Chorus Deep South” and “Tread” find homes, Tobin Bell’s latest horror film completes production and Emilio Insolera joins “355.” ACQUISITIONS MTV Documentary Films has acquired “Gay Chorus Deep South” for release during the fall for awards season consideration. Related Taiwan Submits Golden Horse Award Winner 'Dear Ex' [...]

  • Bad Education

    What 'Bad Education' Taught Us About the Slow Toronto Film Festival Market

    “Bad Education,” a dramedy starring Hugh Jackman as the embezzling superintendent of district of schools in Long Island, N.Y., was set to be this year’s “I, Tonya.” The movie has the same biting tone, shifting between comedy and tragedy. It received strong reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival. And like “I, Tonya,” it even [...]

  • For web story

    Toronto: Sony Pictures Classics Buys 'The Burnt Orange Heresy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed the rights to “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” Variety has learned. The indie label plans to release the film in 2020. The Italian-American thriller was directed by Giuseppe Capotondi and stars Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland. Scott Smith adapted Charles Willeford’s novel of the same name, transporting [...]

  • Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis

    Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis to Star in 'Justice of Bunny King'

    Essie Davis, star of “The Babadook” and autumn festival hit “Babyteeth,” and “Jojo Rabbit” co-star Thomasin McKenzie will headline upcoming drama “The Justice of Bunny King.” The film, now shooting in New Zealand, is a triumph over adversity tale about women fighting their way back from the bottom of society. It is the debut feature [...]

  • Calm With Horses

    Nick Rowland Talks About Toronto Debut Film 'Calm With Horses'

    “Calm with Horses,” which made its world premiere in Toronto’s TIFF in the Discovery section, is the feature directorial debut of Nick Rowland (Amazon series “Ripper Street”), and stars Barry Keoghan (Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals,” “Dunkirk”), Cosmo Jarvis (“Annihilation”), and Niamh Algar (BBC’s “The Virtues”). The script, which was adapted from Colin Barrett’s short story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content