Revenues from China’s steadily growing online movie market are expected to match its box office earnings within the next five years, according to a vp for the Chinese online video site iQiyi who spoke at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in South Korea.
The Hollywood Reporter elaborates:
“In five years, revenues from Internet distribution will be equal to box office in China,” said Yang Xianghua. Chinese box office rose 32 percent in the first nine months of the year to hit $3.55 billion, already nearly equaling last year’s total. Takings from online films are still small, and have been hampered by piracy but a crackdown on IP theft and growing penetration of online content is reaping dividends.
The company is stepping up its plans to stream movies from film festivals to Chinese viewers, and hopes to use Busan to highlight its ambitions to work with traditional film companies in order to raise film funding, conduct market research through ‘big data,’ deliver marketing and promotional support, as well as operate cinema ticketing services.
Yang noted that the shift to online film distribution is especially beneficial for China, which places quota limits on theatrical distribution for foreign films.
“In China there is no DVD market, no Pay TV market. Online will make up for that missing market. The anti-piracy efforts by the government are much stronger than before, and the willingness of internet users to pay for films is increasing,” Yang said.
Youku Tudo, China’s biggest online TV company, already announced a partnership with BIFF to produce short films with three of South Korea’s top film companies.
Other online giants such as Tencent, which will soon be venturing further into the movie market with the launch of a film subsidiary called Tencent Movie Plus, had a notably strong presence at the film festival this year as well, THR said.
Across the pond, streaming site Netflix recently announced the release of its first feature-length film next year. Interestingly enough, it will be the upcoming sequel to the Oscar-winning martial-arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is considered the most successful Chinese-language film of all time.