Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder and CEO Jack Ma expressed interest in joining hands with Sony Corp on movie franchises including “Ghostbusters.” Sony emails revealed by hackers show that Jack Ma discussed it during his meeting with Hollywood executives in October. The Hangzhou-based company also wanted to invest in Pixels, a 3D animated comedy starring Adam Sandler, reports Bloomberg.
Alibaba to compete against Tencent in online video market
According to Alibaba’s messages sent to Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, the Chinese Internet company plans to produce 10 movies a year. During Ma’s visit to Hollywood, actors Jet Li and others accompanied him as advisers to talk to production houses and learn about co-investment opportunities. Sony was the only studio where Alibaba CEO met executives in person.
Alibaba is strengthening its entertainment arm to compete against its arch-rival Tencent Holdings Ltd. in China’s digital video market. According to iResearch, the Chinese online video market will grow to $6.4 billion by 2017. Alibaba was also interested in co-producing a film about the best-selling Manga comic series One Piece. The company also explored investment opportunities in Spider Man villains such as Sinister Six and Dragon Raja, which is wildly popular among young Chinese.
Alibaba prefers investing in specific movies
According to the emails, Sony expressed interest in working with Alibaba on Dragon Raja rather than One Piece. Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the Chinese company preferred investing in specific films instead of studios. Alibaba spokesman Bob Christie said that securing licensing agreements for content distribution across its ecosystem was an important part of Alibaba’s long-term strategy.
What’s more, Alibaba is also looking to invest in Israeli market. According to Globes, the company officials met with Israeli mobile, Internet and e-commerce startups earlier this week. They met with Visualead, which is developing a QR code and has a presence in the Chinese market.
Alibaba shares gained 0.45% to $109.74 in pre-market trading Friday.