Last week Relativity Media, a Hollywood film studio, filed for bankruptcy protection. But even before its fall from grace, Chinese companies including Alibaba Pictures,Baidu,Dalian Wanda,Tencent and Huayi Brothers Media Corp had been eyeing the business closely.
上周，好莱坞制片公司相对论传媒(Relativity Media)提交了破产保护申请。但在好莱坞电影失去曾经的荣耀之前，包括阿里影业(Alibaba Pictures)、百度(Baidu)、大连万达(Dalian Wanda)、腾讯(Tencent)和华谊兄弟(Huayi Brothers Media Corp)在内的中国公司一直密切关注着这一行业。
A lot of Chinese money has already found its way into California. In the past year Chinese investors have put billions into Silicon Valley companies including Uber, Airbnb and LinkedIn.
But of late China Inc has become increasingly focused on the US film industry — in a bid to crack how to make Hollywood blockbusters with Chinese characteristics. This relationship has a natural complementarity. US studios have the know-how but are cash-strapped and risk averse, while the Chinese have abundant capital and an appetite for risk, which lends itself to financing films.
Hunan Television and Broadcast, a government-controlled company, has already put $375m into Lions Gate Entertainment, the studio behind the blockbuster action film series The Hunger Games.
中国国有控股公司——湖南电广传媒(Hunan Television and Broadcast)已经斥资3.75亿美元，与曾制作发行系列动作大片《饥饿游戏》(The Hunger Games)的狮门娱乐(Lions Gate Entertainment)开展合作。
Fosun, a privately held conglomerate, plans to spend up to $200m backing Studio 8, an independent studio founded by Jeff Robinov, former head of Warner Brothers. And an arm of Citic, the Chinese state-owned group, has committed $125m to a venture run by Dick Cook, a former Walt Disney executive.
私人控股公司复星集团(Fosun)计划斥资至多2亿美元投资于独立制片公司Studio 8，后者由华纳兄弟(Warner Brothers)前总裁杰夫圠宾诺夫(Jeff Robinov)创立。中国国有集团公司中信集团(Citic)旗下子公司承诺拿出1.25亿美元投资于由华特迪士尼(Walt Disney)前高管迪克錠克(Dick Cook)运营的一家公司。
Certainly, the economic fundamentals make sense. China is already the second-largest movie market after the US by value of tickets sold, and it is expected to become the largest by 2020. If the country is to shift from a manufacturing-led, export-driven economy to one based on domestic demand and services, entertainment will become ever more important.
For non-Chinese companies seeking to profit from this growth market, local partnerships offer a way of keeping a greater share of revenues. Regulations restrict the number of entirely foreign films that can be shown and the percentage of box revenues that foreign studios may collect.
It is for these reasons that Chinese technology companies have been visiting Los Angeles in search of content, strategic investors and film distributors. A few months ago, Sequoia Capital China was part of a large contingent of Chinese entrepreneurs that spent days with executives at Fox,Sony Pictures Entertainment and STX Entertainment.
正是出于这些原因，中国科技公司一直前往洛杉矶寻求内容、战略投资者和电影发行商。几个月前，一个规模庞大的中国企业家代表团与福克斯(Fox)、索尼电影娱乐公司(Sony Pictures Entertainment)和STX娱乐(STX Entertainment)的高管进行了数天的接触，红杉中国(Sequoia Capital China)就在其中。
New companies are also looking at getting involved. Li Ruigang, former president of Shanghai Media Group, is heading China Media Capital, a vehicle to invest in content on both sides of the Pacific. Some of the most successful technology entrepreneurs and investors in China want to take big stakes in CMC. In addition, some strategic players are considering partnering with online asset management firms in China to help crowdfund potential acquisitions.
新公司也在考虑涉足其中。上海文广新闻传媒集团(SMG)前总裁黎瑞刚执掌了华人文化产业投资基金(China Media Capital，简称CMC)，后者是一家投资于太平洋两岸内容的机构。中国一些最为成功的科技企业家和投资者希望大规模入股CMC。此外，一些战略投资者正考虑与中国在线资产管理公司建立合作关系，以帮助众筹资金、执行潜在的收购。
Donald Tang, a former Bear Stearns executive who shuttles between Los Angeles and Shanghai, has formed a venture with backing from Tencent and others to capitalise on this trend. He has already orchestrated two of the biggest marriages between Hollywood and China: he was deeply involved in Dalian Wanda’s $2.6bn purchase of AMC, the US’s second-biggest cinema chain, and Huayi’s commitment to put hundreds of millions of dollars into STX (which also has money from China-based Hony Capital and the growth capital arm of TPG, the private equity firm).
在腾讯和其他机构的支持下，在洛杉矶和上海之间穿梭的贝尔斯登(Bear Stearns)前高管唐伟(Donald Tang)成立了一家合资企业以利用这种趋势。在好莱坞与中国的最大规模的合作交易中，唐伟已经策划了其中两宗：他深度参与了大连万达斥资26亿美元收购美国第二大电影院线AMC，以及华谊兄弟承诺向STX投资数亿美元的交易，后者也获得了中国弘毅投资(Hony Capital)和私人股本公司TPG旗下增长资本部门的资金。
Of course, the Chinese are not the first to succumb to the lure of Hollywood. But whether they succeed will depend on their willingness to accept a reliance on intermediaries and co-investors, such as Mr Tang. “They have a lot of ambition but not a lot of knowledge,” says one mainlander familiar with the Chinese initiatives.
Historically, Chinese companies have been reluctant to pay for advice — or acknowledge their need for it. Yet it is often not enough simply to pay the highest price. Sellers want certainty that a deal will be done, but all too often Chinese buyers fail, either because they cannot get approval or because they lack the financing. Still, one day it will probably be a Chinese dragon that roars out from American movie screens before the opening titles roll.