Youku Tudou launches film division

Chinese online video platform Youku Tudou is launching a film arm, Heyi Film, which will leverage big data to produce a slate of theatrical features.

The new film outfit will use data generated by Youku Tudou’s more than 500 million users to produce movies that cater to the tastes of the Chinese multi-screen audience.

Heyi’s debut slate includes Bad Sister, directed by Kim Tae-gyun and starring Ivy Chen; The Master, produced by Beijing Century Partner Culture & Media; and Paris Holiday, produced by Hong Kong’s Universe Entertainment and starring Louis Koo.

It also plans to produce feature film versions of five web original shows, including Surprise, Yes Boss! and Miss Puff.

Youku founder, chairman and CEO Victor Koo will be chairman of Heyi Film, while Youku senior vice president and current content chief, Allen Zhu, will be CEO of the new subsidiary. Lee Yong-kwan, director of the Busan International Film Festival, will serve on the company’s board as an independent director.

“Youku Tudou has helped transform how media and entertainment related content is distributed and marketed since our inception. Going forward, we will continue to change how content is created and monetised by directly connecting with the ever-growing consumer economy,” said Koo.

In addition to producing original content and adapting web content for the big screen, Heyi plans to discover new film talent and expand online fan communities to support new consumer monetisation models.

Youku has been producing original content, including micro movies and web serials, for the past few years, and started investing in feature films last year. To date it has invested in or had marketing tie-ups with eight movies including Overheard 3, The White Haired Witch Of Lunar Kingdom and Continent.

“Heyi Film is born at an inflection point whereby the internet has changed people’s film viewing habits, and consumers in the multi-screen age are demanding more diverse genres of content,” said Zhu. “Heyi Film will work with the broadest scope of partners possible to create great films that can bridge both the online and offline worlds.”