Magazine article Screen International

IM Global Chief Predicts China Digital Boom

Magazine article Screen International

IM Global Chief Predicts China Digital Boom

Article excerpt

Ford was delivering a keynote conversation at the Winston Baker Film Finance China conference (June 16), part of the SIFF Forum series of panel discussions and talks.

"You don't need to be a soothsayer to say that five years from now, digital and pay-TV revenues in China will be the single biggest revenue stream of any movie globally," said Ford when asked about the entrance of BAT (Chinese tech giants Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) into the China film market.

When asked if that revenue stream would be bigger than US theatrical, Ford replied: "Yes, in due course, and certainly more cost effective. It's hard to see how the people who are paying that kind of money for content won't have a hand in controlling its production and distribution in future."

Ford added that, far from their entry resulting in a 'dumbing down' of content, the tech giants may be more willing to take risks creatively - just as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and their pay-TV cousin HBO have been in the US.

"We're not yet familiar with how it's happening here, but my personal feeling is that over a three to five-year period, Alibaba and Tencent will take plenty of creative risks to own premium content," said Ford. "Amazon and their competitors are chasing prestige films - if you win the Oscar brand, that could have more value globally than just another popcorn movie."

IM Global is one of the most active international sales and production companies in China - both selling into the market and also picking up Chinese titles such as Wanda Pictures' The Ghouls and Enlight Media's Hollywood Adventures for international distribution. …

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