iQiyi launches film production outfit

Chinese online video platform iQiyi is launching a film company, iQiyi Films, which it claims will develop a new internet-oriented business model for film production.

The new outfit, unveiled at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, will produce eight films a year, including seven domestic films and one Hollywood movie.

iQiyi founder and CEO Gong Yu said the company will use its online platform to raise film funding, gather market research through “big data”, promote movies, sell tickets and develop additional revenue streams such as merchandising and online games.

It will work with existing film companies on the more traditional tasks of producing and theatrically distributing movies.

Li Yansong, the former general manager of iQiyi’s value-added business services division, has been appointed to run iQiyi Films.

Gong said the new outfit will also work with iQiyi’s main investor, internet giant Baidu, on areas such as marketing, online gaming and e-commerce. It also plans to work with Baidu’s financial services operation and payment gateway.

The move comes as Chinese authorities appear to be clamping down on online video platforms. Seven internet TV companies, including Central Television, Zhejiang TV, BesTV and Wasu Online, were recently warned that their licenses will be revoked if they stream foreign films and TV shows that breach censorship laws.