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Alibaba branches out into film

China's Alibaba Group has set its sights on Hollywood. The e-commerce giant is taking a stake in Steven Spielberg's production company, with more movies for Chinese audiences expected to come soon.

Chinese internet billionaire Jack Ma has bought a stake in film director Steven Spielberg's production company, the two said at a news conference in Beijing.

Spielberg, one of Hollywood's richest and most influential film moguls, said he hoped the deal would "bring more of China to America, and bring some more of America to China."

No financial details were offered about Alibaba Pictures' minority stake in Amblin Partners, which Spielberg heads. The director of films such as "Jaws," "E.T." and "Schindler's List" set up the company in 2015 to consolidate his activities including DreamWorks film studios.

In a statement, Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, said, "Among Chinese consumers, there is an increasing demand for premium global content. I believe this collaboration can serve as a cultural bridge and have a positive impact on the next generation of Chinese consumers."

Branching out

Alibaba Pictures was known as ChinaVision Media until 2014, when Alibaba Group paid about $800 million (717 million euros) for a controlling stake. It will have a seat on the board of Amblin.

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Alibaba Pictures Chairman Shao Xiaofeng said his company would "leverage Alibaba Group's ecosystem as a channel for Amblin Partners' films to reach hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers."

The Hong Kong-listed company has yet to release any films, although it has several projects in production. It began investing in Hollywood films in 2015 with its stake in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" and continued with this year's "Star Trek Beyond" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows."

This is the latest tie-up between Beijing and Hollywood as they seek to make movies for audiences in the vast Chinese market.

Dalian Wanda Group Co, the conglomerate controlled by China's richest man Wang Jianlin, is partnering with Sony Pictures to market Sony Pictures' films and cofinance some upcoming movie releases of Sony Corp's film unit in China.

In January, Wanda paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in U.S. film studio Legendary Entertainment. The group has also since said it would start coinvesting in global blockbusters next year.

sgb/hg (AP, Reuters, AFP)

 

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