Who Will Be the NEXT- Disney + in China?
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that Chinese film production company Huanxi Media is emerging as a Chinese version of Disney+. On January 25 2020, during the Lunar New Year holiday last year, Huanxi Media released a movie titled <Lost in Russia> online for free without being released in theaters. As box office revenue plunged due to the spread of the Covid-19, the decision of the Haunxi Media last year of strengthening streaming services is working.
Huanxi Media Chairman Dong-ping, who also co-produced the Oscar-winning film <Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon>, said they are trying to raise the huanxi.COM, their own streaming platform, by attracting money earned from the film.
The company established in 2015, and its shareholders include director Zhang Yimou, director Wong Kar-Wai, and director Peter Chan. This means that these directors' films are exclusively released to the Huanxi media.
Huanxi Media said last year's decision to release <Lost in Russia> free online through ByteDance's TikTok led to a huge success. They earned RMB 630 million yuan (approximately USD 98 million) from ByteDance.
Considering that it can earn about 2.4 billion yuan (approximately USD 370 million) when it is released in theaters, that's not enough. However, due to the free release of <Lost in Russia>, the number of downloads on the platform in 2020 increased 10 times compared to 2019 to 2.7 million times. The number of paid members increased 170 percent year-on-year to 5 million.
The expansion of the streaming business by Huanxi Media was further accelerated when Bilibill, which is called as a Chinese version of YouTube bought a 10% stake of Huanxi Media for HKD 66 million in August to proceed with the release of exclusive movie of the media at the same time. Thanks to this, Huanxi Media was able to reach young audiences in China.
Due to the Covid-19 and the development in digitalized streaming platforms, the movement of a variety of content including moving to the online platform is accelerating. The national barriers to content are gradually disappearing, and it is expected that the production will also need the collaboration strategy with other platforms targeting various audiences and securing specialized content.