Will Tech Giants and “Internet Films” Save China’s Film Industry from Capital Winter?

Will tax scandals, increased censorship, and investment woes result in a shift away from traditional film and toward online content?

While Netflix original ROMA won Oscars this year as the US-based streaming platform races to compete with Hollywood, and Apple is reportedly mulling how to produce Academy Award-worthy content of its own, the development of China’s “internet film” industry has been hampered by complicated relationships between traditional film production companies and streaming platforms.

The main Chinese film industry has struggled in the midst of a “capital winter” following last year’s series of tax evasion scandalsincreasingly strict censorship, and fleeing investments. Reliable investors have looked at the space with skepticism, especially as a number of high-profile, big-budget productions get pulled from major international festivals at the last minute due to vaguely specified “technical reasons“. In the past week, we’ve seen war epic The Eight Hundred yanked at the last minute from opening Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) and bullying drama Better Days pulled from cinema release schedules ahead of its planned launch this week.

The companies that have shown the most willingness to invest in these uncertain times are BAT, China’s big three tech companies of BaiduAlibaba and Tencent. The three biggest video streaming platforms in China, iQIYIYouku, and Tencent Video, are owned or initially sponsored by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, respectively. Given their role as major online distributors, these tech giants are now looking to increase their involvement in the film industry, pursuing investment, production, and promotion, with a special eye on the creation of online-only “internet film”. Continue to read the full story on RADII.


–This article originally appeared on RADII China.