Alibaba to Inject $640M into Hong Kong Entertainment Industry

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) has announced plans to invest more than half a billion dollars into the Hong Kong entertainment industry through its media arm. Businesses in the company’s Digital Media and Entertainment Group (DME), including Alibaba Pictures and Youku, will spend the $640 million (HK$5 billion) investment developing movies, TV dramas and events in Hong Kong on top of providing training for young Hong Kong creatives.

Both Alibaba Pictures and Youku have partnered with production studios based in Hong Kong and announced new entertainment projects at a recent industry trade show. With Youku still basking in the success of “The Queen of the News,” a newsroom drama on Hong Kong TV that the Alibaba entertainment company coproduced and distributed in Hong Kong and North China, Alibaba has high hopes for its entertainment investments.

Alibaba’s investment comes as mainland China’s entertainment industry is going through a post-COVID boom characterized by high box office returns. Youku vice president Ying Xie says the company will help young creatives from Hong Kong to thrive, provide them with better opportunities and support the next generation of actors.

The massive investment is part of the Hong Kong Cultural and Art Industry Revitalization Program, a project birthed by Digital Media and Entertainment Group as well as Hong Kong players such as Huanxi Media, Emperor Moon Pictures, Meiya Entertainment, Universe Entertainment and Culture Group, Media Asia Group, Mandarin Motion Pictures, Edko Films, BenXiaoHai Media Co. Ltd. and Shaw Brothers Pictures.

Hong Kong has a rich film history and is the birthplace of cinema greats such as Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. The island’s entertainment sector was the third-largest movie producer in the world after North America’s Hollywood and India’s Bollywood as well as the second-largest film exporter for several decades.

After experiencing a prolonged downturn, Hong Kong’s entertainment industry stabilized due to easy access to the Chinese market and is currently in the midst of a post-pandemic boost that has seen several pop groups gain significant popularity. DME’s investment is part of a plan to revitalize Hong Kong’s entertainment and cultural scene even further while preserving its pop culture.

Alibaba Pictures president Jie Li noted that Hong Kong-based filmmakers typically possess a mix of eastern aesthetics combined with an international perspective that could help Hong Kong’s entertainment industry remain competitive on the global stage. The Hong Kong government has been supportive of the entertainment industry for a long time and is stepping up its support.

The government created the Film Development Council in 2007, established the CreateHK Office two years later, and pledged to invest more funds into the two bodies via the 2024–2025 budget.

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