The Beijing-based studio, a division of Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant which is listed in Hong Kong and Singapore, says it ended last year with the equivalent of $71.6M in net profit, up from a $64.1M loss, on revenues of $40.6M, up 108.3%. However, operating loss increased in 2015, which the comany says it made up for with “finance income” described as $136M “comprising foreign exchange gains and interest income.”
During 2015, Alibaba Pictures set itself up as an integrated entertainment company with four core segments: content production; internet-based promotion and distribution; entertainment e-commerce; and international operations.
On June 1, the company completed the acquisition of cinema ticketing system Yueke. On December 31, it further completed the acquisition of online ticketing business Taobao Movie and Yulebao, a C2B financing and investing platform for entertainment-related projects, from Alibaba Group.
Zhang Qiang, CEO of Alibaba Pictures said, “The Chinese movie industry continued to demonstrate strong growth momentum in 2015, with overall national box office revenues surging 48.7% to RMB 44.1 billion ($6.78B). With this rapid growth momentum in the entertainment consumer market, we also accelerated our business development and expansion by undertaking various key strategic initiatives in the year, including completing a new share issuance with net proceeds of HK$12.1 billion ($1.56B). In addition, we completed two major acquisitions, which let us put in place what we view as key components of the foundation for our continuous development into a vertically integrated entertainment powerhouse.”
As part of Alibaba Pictures’ international strategy, it made its first investment in a Hollywood tentpole in 2015 with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The company partnered on the PROC release which took about $136M there. That made it the top Hollywood 2D grosser ever in the Middle Kingdom, although many industry watchers felt it actually underperformed in the market. Alibaba says today that the film contributed revenue and profit of $10.6M and $1.1M, respectively, to the company. Also in 2015, Alibaba Pictures opened an office in Los Angeles.
Its other non-Chinese film investments include Korean pic Real, for which it holds the exclusive PROC distribution rights.
In China, a number of major projects are in production, including Ferry Man from producer Wong Kar Wai and starring Tony Leung; novel adaptation Ao Jiao Yu Pian Jian; and Three Lives Three Worlds Ten Miles Of Peach Blossom, also based on a popular book. TV drama, Return Of The Pearl Princess, will further be adapted into an animated film by hot actress-turned-director Vicki Zhao.
Other 2015 activities include a collaboration agreement with theater chain Dadi Cinema Group, and an $86M investment in Bona Film Group.