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Alibaba Pictures Promotes Japanese Films in the Chinese Market, Emerging as the Premier Platform for Internet Promotion

This Week

HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 17 October 2023 – The 36th Tokyo International Film Festival (“TIFF 2023”) will open on October 23. The organizers previously announced that Chinese director Gu Xiaogang has garnered the “2023 Kurosawa Akira Award”, and Chinese actress Zhao Tao will serve as a fellow juror under the International Competition Jury section. Several Chinese films, including “Dwelling by the West Lake” (草木人間), “Snow Leopard” (雪豹), “A Long Shot” (老槍) and “Fly Me to the Moon” (但願人長久), have been shortlisted, reflecting the significant presence of Chinese-language films and filmmakers at this year’s festival.

Alibaba Pictures Group Limited (“Alibaba Pictures” or the “Company”, HKEX: 1060), a leading Internet film and television company in China under the Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, not only boasts robust production capabilities but also excels in film promotion. The Company has effectively supported the promotion of numerous Japanese films, achieving remarkable success in the Chinese film market.

In addition to the competition films, the Chinese Film Week hosted by TIFF 2023 has also generated great anticipation among film fans. It is worth noting that films such as “Lost in the Stars” (消失的她), “Chang An” (長安三萬里), and “One and Only” (熱烈) have achieved both significant box office revenue and positive word-of-mouth in China this year, with Alibaba Pictures involved in their production. The film “All Ears” (不虛此行), invested by Alibaba Pictures, has also been shortlisted under the World Focus section of TIFF 2023.

Japanese films have had a significant impact on the Chinese film market this year, with animated films such as “Suzume” (鈴芽之旅), “Slam Dunk” (男兒當入樽), “Castle in the Sky” (天空之城) and “Doraemon: Stand by Me 2” (哆啦A夢:伴我同行2), all surpassing RMB100 million in box office revenue. Thanks to the copyright acquisition efforts by Road Pictures and the marketing promotion by Alibaba Pictures, “Suzume” broke the first-day box office record for animated films in China and ultimately grossed over RMB800 million in box office revenue, becoming the highest-grossing romantic film of the year. It also surpassed the previous box office record of a Japanese film in China, held by Makoto Shinkai’s “Your Name” (RMB575 million).

During the release of “Suzume”, Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group’s first hyper-real virtual idol, “Leah” cosplayed as the female protagonist Iwahoru Suzume (岩戶鈴芽) and engaged in a captivating cross-dimensional collaboration with the film. This collaboration sparked discussions among netizens both domestically and internationally and serves as a successful example of Alibaba Pictures breaking barriers and promoting films through innovative marketing within its entertainment ecosystem.

Previously, Alibaba Pictures has been involved in the marketing and promotion of numerous classic overseas films with diverse themes. As early as 2017, Alibaba Pictures strategically collaborated with Amblin Entertainment on “A Dog’s Purpose” (為了與你相遇, breaking the box office record for pet-themed films in the Chinese film market.

In 2019, the film “Green Book” (綠簿旅友) won three major awards at the Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. Alibaba Pictures, as an investor in the film, became the first Internet film and television company globally to produce an Oscar-winning Best Picture.

As a co-producer of the film, Alibaba Pictures accurately predicted the market value of this film. After “Green Book” won the awards, Alibaba Pictures immediately introduced it to the Chinese market. The deep friendship between the two main characters in the film transcending cultural differences touched many Chinese audiences. Thanks to Alibaba Pictures’ marketing and distribution capabilities, “Green Book” became a dark horse, grossing RMB478 million at the box office in China and receiving a high rating of 8.9 on Douban.

In the same year, “Capernaum” (星仔打官司) a Lebanese art film introduced by China Film Group, received a tailored marketing strategy from Alibaba Pictures and Road Pictures to highlight emotional resonance. It targeted the Chinese audience’s interest in the topic of the original family and relied on high-quality preview screenings to generate word-of-mouth. It also leveraged platforms like Douyin (TikTok) to generate buzz and discussion around the film.

Through measures such as strategic scheduling, precise targeted screenings, and controlling the pace of marketing and distribution, Road Pictures and Alibaba Pictures successfully helped this niche film break through the boundaries of the film audience. Despite being released around the same time as “Avengers: Endgame” (復仇者聯盟4), it achieved impressive results with a box office of RMB376 million and a high rating of 9.1 on Douban.

Not only does Alibaba Pictures excel in the promotion of new films, they also re-introduced a growing stable of overseas classic films to the big screen.

In 2019, the Italian classic film “The Legend of 1900” (聲光伴我飛), jointly marketed and promoted by Hishow Entertainment and Alibaba Pictures, re-released in China and achieved a box office of RMB143 million. The 4K high definition restored version also received positive reviews from fans. In 2021, Star Alliance Movies and Alibaba Pictures collaborated to bring the film “Love Letter” back to Chinese audiences after a 22-year absence from the screen. They chose to release it on May 20 (China’s Valentine’s Day), satisfying the audience’s demand for romantic films and ultimately grossing over RMB65 million at the box office.

For the classic and niche Japanese film “Departures” (禮儀師之奏鳴曲), Alibaba Pictures planned a series of short video marketing campaigns, including interviews with funeral professionals, post-screening audience story sharing, and “Heavenly Messages Interaction” through platforms like Douyin, which are popular among young audiences, to convey the film’s social issues and humanistic sentiments.

Through an innovative marketing perspective, the film “Departures” achieved remarkable success on Douyin, garnering over 1.2 billion views, receiving more than 26 million official likes, and surpassing industry expectations with a total box office of over RMB60 million.

In the field of international documentary film promotion, Alibaba Pictures has taken a different approach by targeting the vertical audience for documentary films.

For the extreme sports documentary “Free Solo” (赤手登峰), Alibaba Pictures leveraged the strong promotion capabilities of Taopiaopiao and Beacon which has strengthened the influence of KOLs in the rock-climbing field and attracted members of over 200 rock climbing gyms to watch the film in theaters. With the positive feedback and appreciation from the audience during the initial screenings, the film piqued the curiosity of passersby and ultimately achieved a box office attendance of over one million viewers.

Leveraging precise targeting of the core audience, Alibaba Pictures emphasizes the real-life significance of protagonists’ perseverance and positivity in film promotion. This approach has resulted in strong word-of-mouth, boosting the film to become the second highest-grossing documentary in 2019 with a box office of RMB36.4 million.

Compared with previous marketing strategies for foreign films, Alibaba Pictures goes beyond relying solely on Hollywood blockbusters and emphasizes on high-quality films featuring relatable characters and captivating stories instead. By introducing diverse genres and themes, the content available in Chinese cinemas is enriched and catering to the varied preferences of the audience.

In traditional promotion practices, non-Hollywood imported films often struggle to achieve commercial success due to low awareness and niche themes. Through the digital promotion products offered by Taopiaopiao and Beacon, Alibaba Pictures identifies precise marketing strategies for various films, allowing great content to reach a wider audience and achieve both box office success and positive reception.

This exemplifies the positive changes that Alibaba Pictures seeks to bring to the industry by empowering the film industry with “new infrastructure” like Internet promotion and constantly exploring innovative avenues for film promotion. It is clear that a growing number of international film and television companies are eager to engage in deep collaborations with Alibaba Pictures. In terms of boosting box office revenue and influence within the Chinese film market, Alibaba Pictures has emerged as a significant and influential force that demands attention and cannot be overlooked.

Hashtag: #AlibabaPictures

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About Alibaba Pictures

Alibaba Pictures was incorporated in Bermuda and its shares are listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange. The Company is an entertainment platform driven by the Internet at its core, with full coverage across the industry chain. The core business of the Group includes three major segments: content, technology and IP merchandising and commercialization. These segments encompass (i) investment in and production and distribution of entertainment content, such as film and drama series, both domestically and internationally; (ii) digitalization in the entertainment sector, including platform ticketing, digital intelligence business and other technology products; and (iii) centered around content IP, provision of professional services such as IP development and operation, and production and distribution of IP derivatives, respectively.

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