Making its latest investment in an international film, China’s Alibaba Pictures has signed a memorandum of understanding for a stake in upcoming Korean action title Real. Shooting is expected to begin by the end of this year on the pic that stars Kim Soo-hyun as an ambitious and ruthless scavenger hungry to establish his empire of casinos and hotels.
Alibaba recently invested in Paramount/Skydance’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, also collaborating on online ticketing, promotion and merchandising in the Middle Kingdom. That film ended its run with about $136M in China after having set a record as the highest-grossing 2D Hollywood movie ever.
The investment in Real, to be directed by Lee Jung-Sub, reflects Alibaba’s ambition to become a global player. The agreement will give the Chinese company sole distribution rights for the movie in the Middle Kingdom and see it leverage the resources of parent Alibaba Group to support marketing, including advertising placement, brand licensing and e-commerce development.
Alibaba says the investment will also pave the way for Alibaba Pictures to further explore opportunities in the Korean industry. Aside from being a powerhouse market for Hollywood movies, Korea has one of the world’s most lucrative local businesses.
Korean films have performed well in China and the countries enjoy a co-production relationship. Together they made 20 Once Again, a remake of the Korean time-traveling comedy Miss Granny, which topped the box office when it opened in the Middle Kingdom in January this year. Other Korean films to recently release in China include Assassination and Roaring Currents.
Kim is a star in Korea and is also popular in China with roles in such feature hits as Miss Granny, Secretly Greatly and The Thieves. He’s also known for the TV series Dream High and My Love From The Star.
Zhang Qiang, CEO of Alibaba Pictures says, “We’re investing in Real because the Korean film industry is arguably the most influential creatively in the region at present and the hugely popular Kim Soo-hyun is the embodiment of that. We aim to support regional movie making in Asia, as well as bigger Hollywood movies.”
The exec added, “We will also acquire and develop quality intellectual property assets and consolidate our global resources, technologies and talent in order to bring the best entertainment experience to users and to build a world-class integrated entertainment platform for the movie industry.”