Monday, April 18, 2016

Alibaba Invests In Nickelodeon And Paramount's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows"

Alibaba Pictures Group, the film making arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is to invest in two of Paramount Pictures's summer tentpole films: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Star Trek Beyond - as the Chinese company extends its foray into Hollywood.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

The company said that it expects both movies to be imported in to China under the revenue sharing quota scheme. And both are expected to be released in the second half of the year through state-owned distributors China Film Group and Huaxia Film.

Ninja Turtles, in which Wanda is also an investor, is set for a June 3 release stateside, while the new Star Trek will arrive on U.S. screens in July. Alibaba indicated both films have received government approval to be imported into China under the country's quota system.

The releases will be supported and given a marketing boost through Alibaba's Taobao Movie and Yulebao.

This is the second time that Alibaba has invested in and provided Chinese promotional support to a Paramount title. Last year it came on board Tom Cruise vehicle Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.

"We had a great experience working with Paramount on 'Mission: Impossible,' and are very excited to join forces again for these two pictures, both of which have terrific fan bases in China that we hope to cooperate with Paramount to grow even larger," said Zhang Wei, President of Alibaba Pictures.

"Our most recent collaboration showed us this new internet-powered movie and television company has in areas such as promotion, distribution and movie-related merchandise. We look forward to even more successful launches of these films in the global movie market," said Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount.

Alibaba said that globalization is at the core of APG's strategy. It will "consolidate resources, technology and talent on a global basis and directly participate in the global competition of the entertainment industry," it said.

Star Trek Into Darkness grossed $57 million in China in 2013, about 12% of its worldwide haul of $467 million. The Ninja Turtles cartoons have long been popular in China, and Paramount's 2014 Ninja Turtle film grossed $63 million in China, also about 12% of its $493-million worldwide earnings.

The companies did not reveal how much Alibaba would invest in the productions.

In addition to the Paramount films, Alibaba Pictures is further setting its sights beyond China by investing in a Korean action film called REAL starring Kim Soo Hyun, which is expected to be released in 2017. The company is also bankrolling its own productions, several of which are expected to be released in 2016, including Ferryman, which counts Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai as a producer and is directed by Zhang Jiajia, author of the short story on which it's based. The production arm of Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant also used the Beijing International Film Festival this weekend as a platform to announce plans for a partnership on an unspecified film from by celebrated Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso).

The deals come shortly after Alibaba Pictures said it would team with Skydance (which also had a hand in M:I5 and is in Star Trek Beyond) on The Flying Tigers, a film about the volunteer group of U.S. Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines that defended China against Japanese forces before America entered World War II.

Sources: Variety, LA Times, Deadline, Bloomberg.
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