China’s Tencent Pictures, the film arm of online giant Tencent, has announced it will partner with Legendary Pictures and invest an equity stake in Warcraft, the vidgame adaptation of popular online World Of Warcraft. Wanda, China’s largest cinema chain, will also work with the two companies and use its network to promote and market the film.
Currently in post, Warcraft is directed by Duncan Jones (Moon) and stars Travis Fimmel and Paula Patton. Tencent’s deal on the film is similar to Alibaba Pictures’ recent investment in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation in that it is a combination of equity and marketing and promotion support. The film will be released next summer.
The announcement was part of a wider event for Tencent Pictures that saw the company unveiling a slate of new projects. One such project is a remake of classic 1970’s martial arts film The Magic Blade with partners Celestial Pictures. The original was produced by the legendary Shaw Pictures.
Other projects announced include a number of comic book adaptations, games and adaptations of books. Tencent is one of China’s largest vidgame distributors, an obvious influence on the type of fare that the group’s film unit is likely to focus on.
All three of China’s Internet giants- Baida, Alibaba and Tencent- are aggressively moving into long form content generation and distribution. In addition to today’s news, last week Tencent announced the launch of Shanghai-based Penguin Pictures, with a particular focus on web drama. Alibaba has been making its own moves, signing a deal with Chinese film company DMG and Hunan TV to bundle subscription-based Internet, cable and mobile entertainment, along with gaming, film and TV content, to Chinese consumers for the first time as well as acquiring an 8.8% stake in Enlight, one of China’s leading film and TV production companies as well as a minority stake the Huayi Bros.
The deal with Wanda will see the two companies make use of China’s largest private sector cinema chain to promote their content. Wanda Cinemas is a separately listed unit of Dalian Wanda, which owns the U.S.-based AMC Cinemas and Australia’s Hoyts chain.