Well Go to Bow Chinese Films ‘Girls vs Gangsters,’ ‘Detective Dee,’ and ‘How Long Will I Love You’ in November

Three Chinese films, Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, Girls vs Gangsters and How Long Will I Love You, are coming to the home market from Well Go USA in November

Due Nov. 6 on DVD is Girls vs Gangsters, about a bachelorette weekend that spins out of control. After a wild night, three friends wake on a beach, two handcuffed to a locked suitcase, one with a new tattoo, and all of them not knowing what happened the night before. The film features Mike Tyson.

Coming Nov. 13 on DVD and Blu-Ray combo pack is Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings. Director Tsui Hark (The Taking of Tiger Mountain) brings back the popular hero in the hit wuxia fantasy franchise. Set during the Tang dynasty, the third film in the martial arts franchise finds the detective defending himself from the Empress while looking to recover a magical weapon.

Finally, coming to VOD and digital Nov. 13 is How Long Will I Love You. The romantic comedy follows a man and a woman who are living in the same apartment nearly 20 years apart and wake one day to find their timelines have merged.

Report: U.S. Fiscal Investment in A.R./V.R. Waning

Financial investment in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology in the United States is on the decline – and on the rise in China, according to new data from fiscal advisor Digi-Capital.

North American investment in VR/AR fell about 92% to $120 million in the third quarter 2018 from $1.5 billion in Q4 2017. The majority previously invested in smart glasses, video games, location-based entertainment, video, advertising and marketing.

Indeed, global shipments of AR and VR headsets dropped more than 30% this year, according to International Data Corp. A separate report found significant declines in sales of VR headsets on Amazon from Sony, Samsung, Facebook and HTC.

Digi-Capital said global VR/AR investment has declined about 10% per quarter after plateauing at $2 billion in Q4 2017. In China, VR/AR investment has approached $3.9 billion.

Goldman Sachs projects Asia – spearheaded by China – will be become the world’s largest VR market by 2021 with 45% market share.

“American and Chinese investment had an inverse relationship in the last 12 months,” Tim Merel, managing director at Digi-Capital, said in a statement.“American investors increasingly chose to stay on the sidelines, while Chinese investor confidence grew to back up clear vision with long-term investments. The differences in the data couldn’t be starker.”

 

Research: Global SVOD Subs to Top 777 million by 2023

To some spiritual believers, the number 777 signifies luck, good fortune, miracles, optimism and fulfilled dreams. All of which apparently is in the cards for the subscription video-on-demand market.

New data from Digital TV Research suggests global SVOD subscriptions will top 777 million (excluding free trials) by 2023, an increase of 409 million subs from the end of 2017.

China and the United States will generate more than 50% of the global SVOD subscriber count by 2023, but in addition, nine other countries will have more than 10 million SVOD subs each.

China will have the most SVOD subs – despite multiple subscriptions being commonplace in the U.S. China will have 235 million SVOD subs – up from 97 million in 2017. An impressive tally considering Netflix and Amazon Prime Video do not operate in the country.

“The U.S. will have 208 million SVOD subs; up by an impressive 76 million on 2017 despite its relative maturity,” Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said in a statement. “Its share of the global market will fall from 36% in 2017 to 27% by 2023.”

By 2023, Netflix will contribute 192 million subs (25% of the 777 million subs), Amazon Prime Video 120 million (15%), China 235 million (30%). Another 230 million (30%) SVOD subs will come from third-party services.

Prime Video launched in 200 countries (except China, North Korea, Crimea and Syria) in late 2016 – like Netflix. DTV Research projects 120 million Prime Video subs by 2023 – double the 2017 total. However, 110 million of the total will be in Amazon Prime territories, and therefore will not directly pay for the video platform.

SVOD revenue will reach $69 billion by 2023; up by nearly $44 billion since 2017. The U.S. will remain the SVOD revenue leader by a considerable distance – adding $17 billion between 2017 and 2023 to take its total to $29 billion.

Cinedigm Embraces Chinese Business Ties with First Original Series About American Feminist Adventurer Emily Hahn

Cinedigm is partnering with Mark Yellen Productions and Rosenbloom Entertainment to produce a multi-season, episodic series about feminist and adventurer Emily Hahn, the literary author who introduced Shanghai and greater China to U.S. audiences through her articles published in The New Yorker magazine in the 1930s.

The indie home entertainment distributor, which is majority owned by Hong Kong-based Bison Capital, is using its Chinese connections to begin shooting in 2019 on location in Shanghai and Hong Kong, taking advantage of Shanghai’s Bund waterfront, which has one the richest collections of Art Deco architecture in the world.

The series will be released in the U.S. and China through both physical and digital media.

“Emily Hahn was a charismatic, unconventional free spirit who wrote about her experiences with courage and compassion,” Chris McGurk, CEO, Cinedigm, said in a statement. “Now is the perfect time to re-introduce audiences to the vibrant, complex, and intriguing world of 1930s Shanghai from a uniquely female perspective.”

A feminist trailblazer before the word existed, Hahn wrote hundreds of articles and short stories for The New Yorkerfrom 1925 to 1995, as well as fifty-two books in many genres, most notably China to Me and The Soong Sisters.

Hahn, who died in 1997 at the age of 92, led a most unconventional life – especially for a woman in the 1930s and 40s.

She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in mining engineering – choosing the field after a professor reportedly told her, “The female mind is incapable of grasping mechanics or higher mathematics or any of the fundamentals of mining taught” in engineering.

Prior to graduating, Hahn drove across the country in a Model T Ford dressed as a man, chronicling the trip in letters to her brother-in-law – who, recognizing her literary talent, then forwarded them to The New Yorker.

That was the beginning of a life that would include stints in the Belgian Congo, living with a pygmy tribe for two years and crossing central Africa solo on foot.

Hahn’s time in Shanghai from 1935 through 1941, included the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1941. Captured by the Japanese during World War II, Hahn taught Japanese officials English in exchange for food. She was repatriated in 1943.

Like chapters out of Casablanca, Hahn was romantically involved with numerous high-profile men, including Victor Sassoon, Chinese poet and publisher Shao Xunmei, and Charles Boxer, head of British intelligence in Hong Kong, with whom she had two children after the war.

Ever the nonconformist, Hahn would later write that Shao got her addicted to opium. “Though I had always wanted to be an opium addict, I can’t claim that as the reason I went to China,” she wrote.

“Emily was able to champion female empowerment and embrace cultural diversity at a time when those concepts were completely alien to most, making it very relevant in today’s climate of change,” said Chip Rosenbloom, president of Rosenbloom Entertainment.

China Tops U.K. in TV Content Production, Trailing the U.S.

China has overtaken the United Kingdom in television programming production, becoming the second-largest market in the world after the United States, according to new data from IHS Markit.

TV programming expenditures in China, including online platforms, hit 73 billion yuan ($10.9 billion) in 2017, followed by the U.K. at $10 billion, while the U.S. led spending with $58.3 billion.

“The growth in China’s TV programming spending is largely due to aggressive content investment by online companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent,” Kia Ling, senior research analyst at IHS Markit, said in a statement. “These three giants have upped their spending on content origination and acquisition for their respective video platforms iQiyi, Youku Tudou and Tencent Video.”

Broadcaster advertising revenue growth in China plateaued in 2017, reaching 83 billion yuan ($12.3 billion), but online revenue is on the rise, driven by greater video advertising and subscription income. TV broadcasters spent 43 billion yuan ($6.4 billion) on programming in 2017, compared to 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) spent by online platform companies.

“As digital entertainment viewership gains traction, advertisers are gradually moving more of their budgets to digital platforms,” Teoh said. “We expect online companies to overtake TV broadcaster spending in 2018, if the content creation spree persists.”

Original programming made up 49% of all Chinese programming in 2017, followed by acquired programming at 46%, and sports programming at 5%.

IHS Markit expects this split to remain relatively consistent over the next five years.

“Broadcasters and online platform companies are increasingly creating their own content, not only to lure paying subscribers, but also for merchandising, mobile game development and other new revenue streams,” said Teoh. “In addition, distribution of linear TV and online platform content can generate lucrative returns, in both domestic and foreign markets.”

Despite the increased focus on original programming in China, acquired content will remain an integral part of broadcasters’ content strategy, as many companies still rely heavily on acquired content. The large and growing consumer appetite for global sporting events, particularly online, is also expected to boost spending on sports programming.

“While online platform companies are increasing China’s TV programming expenditure, they should be concerned by user retention and sustainability of content costs,” added Teoh. “In order to retain existing subscribers and attract new ones, online platform companies are investing heavily to create and acquire exclusive content. Unlike Netflix, these companies still rely substantially on advertising and sponsorship. If the cost of content continues to surge, such aggressive investment will become unsustainable.”

Roku CEO: Chinese Tariffs Have No Impact

Roku-branded televisions represent one-in-four smart TVs sold in the United States, with CEO Anthony Wood claiming the units are the top-selling TVs on Amazon.

Roku markets branded budget-priced TVs featuring a proprietary OS and assembled by eight manufacturers – Insignia, Element, TCL, Philips, Sharp, RCA, Hitachi and Hisense – four which are Chinese.

With President Trump Aug. 7 launching a second round of tariffs on 279 Chinese-manufactured products, or $16 billion worth of imports, Wood was asked on the fiscal call how tariffs could impact the cost of Roku TVs.

“They don’t appear to affect any of our products,” Wood said. “We have a lot of different TV manufacturers and they are not all in China.”

The Trump Administration is seeking to reduce the $376 billion trade deficit with China through 25% tariffs imposed on myriad products – excluding TVs – and materials manufactured in the People’s Republic of China– the world’s second-largest economy by GDP.

“It’s something that [could] change and so we’re monitoring it carefully,” Wood said.

 

China Streaming Video Service iQiYi Opens First On-Demand Movie Theater

Chinese online video platform iQiYi has launched what it claims is the first on-demand movie theater in the world.

Dubbed “China’s Netflix,” iQiYi May 20 officially opened the “Yuke” on-demand movie theater in Zhongshan, Guangdong, enabling consumers to select a movie online and watch it at a Yuke theater. The six-seat theaters include Dolby audio, reclined seating and other enhanced features not available in the typical Chinese household.

China is one of the largest film production countries in the world generating nearly a thousand films annually. In 2017, a total of 970 films were produced, yet only 487 of them were played in theaters, according to iQiYi. As the national income level continues to rise in China, consumer demand for cinema viewing is rising.

The company – which is owned by China’s online search giant Baidu and launched an IPO on Wall Street earlier this year – said it working to bring Yuke movie theaters to first- and second-tier cities throughout China.

“The development of on-demand movie theaters poses an exciting opportunity to increase the strength and overall scale of China’s film industry,” Yang Xianghua, SVP at iQiYi, said in a statement. “[We] will take advantage of our strong brand awareness, massive user base, popular content and advanced technology to contribute to the growth of this booming market and extend our premium viewing experience to offline consumers.”

At the end of March, iQiYi had 61.3 million subscribers. Going forward, iQiYi said it would combine online and offline subscriber bases to integrate retail services and offline consumption with related merchandise for purchase in cinemas.

China’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ Due on Blu-ray May 1 From Well Go

Based on the best-selling fantasy novel, Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, and directed by two Oscar-lauded filmmakers, the Chinese film Once Upon a Time will be released on Blu-ray May 1 from Well Go USA Entertainment at $29.98.

The title is available now on digital.

A story of epic battles, passion, and the powerful forces that drive mortals and gods alike toward revenge, loyalty, and eternal love, the fantasy adventure follows an immortal woman who reconnects with a love from her past life. First-time feature film directors Zhao Xiaoding (Academy Award nominee for Best Achievement in Cinematography, House of Flying Daggers, 2004) and Anthony LaMolinara (Oscar winner for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Spider-Man 2, 2004) co-directed the film starring Liu Yifei (White Vengeance, next starring in the title role in Disney’s live action version of Mulan), Yang (Joyful Reunion), Yikuan Yan (The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom), Jin Luo (Shaolin) and Chun Li (Guilty of Mind).

China’s Tencent Video Touts 62.5 Million Subscribers

In a subtle effort to undermine Netflix’s tepid foray into China, Tencent Video, the erstwhile communist country’s largest SVOD service, March 18 issued a press release in the United States touting its subscriber prowess.

Tencent said it surpassed 62.5 million subscribers at the end of February – 18% more than Netflix’s 52.8 million domestic subs at the end of December 2017.

The service reported 43 million subs at the end of last September. Tencent also generated 137 million average mobile daily active users in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Citing third-party research, the service said it covered 790 million video streaming devices in January 2018 – nearly 100 million units more than the next service. It streamed 80% of the top 20 most popular TV dramas in China.

Netflix last April inked a license deal with streaming platform iQIYI (20 million subs) after standalone attempts to enter China failed due to government regulators.

Indeed, Disney’s upstart OTT video platform, DisneyLife, was pulled by regulators as was buying movies on iTunes – the latter lasting just seven months after launching.

Tencent said it has built its sub base on local content, Dolby Vision, Blu-ray (1080p resolution) and interactive screen, among other features.

The TV dramas include “The Nothing Gold Can Stay,” “Candle in the Tomb,” “Country Love Story,” “The Eternal Love,” and “A Love So Beautiful.”

“At Tencent, we always endeavor to offer superior user experience and member services,” Thirty Sun, VP of Tencent and CEO of Tencent Penguin Pictures, said in a statement.

 

Shout! Factory Buys Roger Corman Library with Chinese Co.

Indie distributor Shout! Factory and China’s Ace Film HK Co. have acquired Roger “The Pope of Pop Cinema” Corman’s New Horizons Picture catalog featuring 270 movies and TV series. No financial details were disclosed.

The deal grants Shout! rights to North America, Europe, Australia and Russia. Ace has rights for China, Asia, Africa and South America.

Titles include Rock‘N’Roll High School, The Trip, The Wild Angels, Death Race 2000, Piranha, Bloodfist, Black Scorpion, Little Shop of Horrors, Eat My Dust! and Humanoids From The Deep, among others.

The 91-year-old Corman received an honorary Oscar in 2009, and reportedly helped foster the careers of Jack Nicholson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Paul Bartel, Ron Howard, Jonathan Demme and Gale Anne Hurd, among others.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Shout! has distributed select Corman titles on branded packaged media box sets and digital since 2010. It plans to support the catalog with a “long-term growth strategy” that includes new content development, remakes, merchandise licensing programs, digital media initiatives, and content syndication.

The company bowed ad-supported Shout! Factory TV in 2015.