Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures is making an investment in the latest installment of Paramount’s Tom Cruise secret agent pic Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The investment, which was announced on Alibaba Pictures’ website, would rep the first in a Hollywood project for Ma’s group. In addition to its financial investment, the level of which was not disclosed, the film unit of the e-commerce giant will collaborate with Paramount on online ticketing, promotion and merchandising for the film’s release in China.
“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is our first step toward internationalization, and Alibaba Pictures looks forward to collaborating with more international movie studios where we can consolidate resources, technologies and talents to establish a world-class integrated entertainment platform for the film industry,” said Zhang Qiang, CEO of Alibaba Pictures.
“Last fall, Jack Ma, Brad Grey, Zhang Qiang and our teams met in Los Angeles to talk about ways our companies could cooperate together,” said Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount Pictures. “We hope today’s announcement is the first of many collaborations between us. Alibaba’s commitment to offering its customers innovative programs, including one-of-a-kind retail and entertainment experiences in China, make them perfect partners for us on the launch of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and we are thrilled to be working with them to create a successful campaign for one of our studio’s most popular franchises.”
This would not be the first time Paramount has raised extra coin for its Mission: Impossible series. Ghost Protocol, which filmed partly in Dubai including the iconic world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa, received an investment/subsidies from Dubai authorities believed to be in the high seven figures. That investment came about thanks to the significant boost the Dubai-set Mission: Impossible scenes gave the glamorous emirate as a global marketing tool. The Alibaba investment is likely to be more strategic and industrial.
Earlier this month, Alibaba Pictures announced plans to raise $1.6 billion through a share placement. The company announced its capital raise would be used to boost its presence in the growing Chinese film market.
Alibaba Pictures has seen its share price rocket by 160% this year amid consumer confidence both in the perception it is being positioned to become a major player in China, and also by a wider keenness for investors in the Middle Kingdom to be involved in media and content generation.
Alibaba Pictures was borne out of the acquisition of a majority 60% stake by Ma’s group in March 2014 for $800 million as the e-commerce entrepreneur sought to add as much value to his group as possible ahead of the ultimately blockbusting IPO last September. The newly monikered company has gradually been working towards expanding its operations since its launch. In January, it announced it had brought on-board celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (In The Mood For Love) to produce its first film Bai Du Ren, written and directed by Zhang Jiajia and starring Wong Kar Wai regular Tony Leung (2046).
In March, Ma announced Alibaba had also acquired an 8.8% stake in Enlight, one of China’s leading film and TV production companies, valued at $380 million. In April, shares in Alibaba Pictures soared after its parent company — at one point valued at more than Walmart — announced it was considering an asset injection in the film unit and that it was planning to fold its online movie-ticketing business as well as its movie production crowdfunding business into Alibaba Pictures.