Resurgent Chinese Film Market

Mainland China's film market has long been one of the most dynamic and promising in the world, and in the first half of this year, the Chinese film market experienced an exciting recovery. In particular, the recent release of "Lost in the Stars" (消失的她), in which Alibaba Pictures Group Limited (Stock code:1060, referred to as the "Company") was heavily involved in the investment and distribution, has generated significant buzz at the box office and created a wave of movie-going frenzy. In just over 10 days since its release, the film's box office receipts have exceeded RMB2.7 billion, equivalent to 9% of China's total box office revenue last year, making it a dark horse at the box office and the opening of the summer season for the Company.

"Lost in the Stars" leads the way in the summer box office

As the primary producer, distributor, and promoter of the film, Alibaba Pictures has achieved a full-scale deployment in the production and marketing chain of "Lost in the Stars", including investment, distribution, ticket sales and other aspects. "Lost in the Stars" is also the prelude to the Company's rich lineup of 16 films for the summer season. The strong start to the season once again demonstrates the Company's forward-looking planning in the content industry and the continuous improvement of its production and development capabilities.

After the Dragon Boat Festival, the summer box office season kicked off, and the number of scheduled films has exceeded 90 and continues to grow, making this year's film market performance highly anticipated. According to data from Beacon Professional, as of 4pm, July 6, the total box office revenue (including pre-sales) of this year's summer box office had exceeded RMB5.626 billion. The film "Lost in the Stars", released by Alibaba Pictures and Taopiaopiao, continued its momentum as a dark horse at the box office during the Dragon Boat Festival, leading the summer box office. As of 4pm, July 6, the box office receipts of "Lost in the Stars" had exceeded RMB2.728 billion, making it one of the hottest films of the summer, and it is expected to become the top grossing film in the summer box office and post the largest attendance record in the past three years.

Alibaba Pictures continues to expand its presence in the entertainment industry

Alibaba Pictures has strong capabilities in film production, distribution, and promotion, and will further strengthen its presence in the pan-entertainment industry by enhancing its dual-engine strategy of "content and technology", while building out its own unique entertainment ecosystem. The Company is making significant investments in a full range of entertainment content and enhancing its capabilities to produce a broader range of content, including film and drama series content, with a view to steadily delivering high-quality content to the market. It is also expanding the scope of its technology platform services and exploring business opportunities associated with digital humans and multiple business models for IP merchandising and commercialization, in order to provide consumers with a richer, better and more tangible product experience. Moreover, the Company is actively promoting its collaboration and cooperation within the Alibaba ecosystem, such as online live streaming, online ticketing, and film merchandising, to unlock the potential of "content + technology".

In addition to investment and product layout, the Company also emphasizes cooperation and communication within the industry. Through cooperation with domestic and overseas film companies, directors, actors, and others, it brings more international elements to the development of China's film industry and enhances the international visibility and influence of Chinese films.

In the future, with the recovery of China's film market, Alibaba Pictures will continue to adhere to its dual-engine strategy and innovative spirit, strengthen cooperation with all parties, and continuously promote the development of China's film industry to bring greater returns to investors.

Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 opens in Beijing

The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 recently opened at The Ming Tombs Tourist Center, co-hosted by Beijing Municipal Cultural Heritage Bureau, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau, the CPC Changping District Committee and Changping District People's Government of Beijing Municipality.

Themed "Splendid Ming Dynasty, Glorious Culture", the Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 features one main forum, five themed forums, one international symposium, three culture heritage exhibitions and 10 cultural events that will continue throughout the year. The goal is to further leverage Changping District's advantage as the sole intersection of the three "culture belts" of Beijing, dive into and carry forward the virtues of Ming Dynasty culture, push for creative transformation and innovative development of fine traditional Chinese culture in Changping District and help it build a world-famous Ming Dynasty culture research, exchange and experience center, according to the Publicity Department of Changping District.

The Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) had its special glamour in Chinese history. During the period, a wealth of results were achieved in economy, culture, art, science and technology and other fields, making outstanding contributions to the world's cultural progress. The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum aims to dive into and carry forward the virtues of Ming Dynasty culture, present its distinctive aspects through historical and cultural lens and add new elements to modern life.

The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 brings together about 60 cultural celebrities, well-known scholars and influencers to share their insights and chart the course for the inheritance and high-quality development of Ming Dynasty culture in the new era.

Combining both academic and non-academic components, the Ming Dynasty Culture Forum 2023 targets specialists and the general public alike and highlights popular and modern elements. The forum will also hold a series of activities such as the Traditional Chinese Medicine Culture and Tourism Festival and the "Bai Zi Yi" (100-family clothes for a baby's 100-day celebration) flash mob. Digital technology will be employed to create immersive experiences to sell cultural and creative products. All this is designed to help Changping District make Ming Dynasty culture one of its cultural signatures, attract more tourists and increase its visibility and influence.

The Ming Dynasty Culture Forum will continue to fully perform its functions for pooling resources, driving development, pioneering innovation, facilitating communication and exchange and providing service and support. It will work to engage more people, interpret and showcase Ming Dynasty culture in more diverse forms, help improve regional economic and cultural quality and efficiency and make Ming Dynasty culture a great namecard of Changping District.

VR Project Receives Strong Consumer Response

iQIYI, an innovative market-leading online entertainment service in China, launched its Luoyang Virtual Reality (VR) Project in Shanghai in April and has since attracted more than 5,000 players to try the industry's first-ever all-immersive entertainment experience. Based on iQIYI's hugely popular original IP Luoyang, the Luoyang VR Project will also land in Luoyang, Henan province and Beijing later this summer in the second half of the year.

The project has generated tremendous interest and raving reviews in the short time since its launch. Consumers marveled at how highly realistically the set-up stimulates the physical experience of high winds, waterfall, and explosion—all within a physical space of 300 square meters. For consumers, the project breaks new ground in merging imagination and reality.

The strong user feedback is a testament to the sophistication of iQIYI's entertainment technology. The first attempt in the VR industry to integrate different elements from immersive theatre, VR, and original IP, the project leverages the "Inside-out Tracking" technology and other industry-leading, sensory-simulation techniques to "build in" cars, boats, carriages, and other props as well as to simulate different physical experience. The upshot is a highly realistic environment that fully immerses the audience in the story.

Created by the iQIYI DREAMVERSE studio, the project marks the latest addition to iQIYI Chinese Historic City Universe (iCHCU) of Luoyang, which consists of 12 distinct entertainment projects all inspired by the popular Luoyang IP.

ZHANG Hang, senior vice president of iQIYI said: "The Chinese content market provides a host of excellent IPs, but the industry is still at the beginning of harnessing the full potential of these IPs. The Luoyang VR Project shows how incorporating technological innovations and a localized approach to exploring VR commercialization, original IP-based projects boost both the content market and cultural consumption at large."

HU Shihui, founder and CEO of metaverse-themed park X-META, iQIYI's partner and offline operator of the project, pointed out in addition to a highly immersive "in-theatre" experience, the project also generates user interest by incorporating dining and opportunities for dressing up in costumes and photoshoots. Hu said: "As the Luoyang VR project meets a variety of consumer needs, it elevates the 'cultural metaverse' entertainment experience to a whole new level." Hu also anticipated sustained consumer interest in the project in the coming months as summer holidays begin.

iQIYI first entered the field of offline VR entertainment in 2018, and, in 2020, established the production studio DREAMVERSE to focus on curating VR projects and all-immersive experiences. DREAMVERSE has since launched a series of popular offline VR projects, and the Luoyang VR Project marks its latest hit.

Gen-Z and younger millennials are using virtual reality extensively, with 36% of Chinese consumers having used virtual reality headsets to play games or view content in the past six months, according to PwC's 2022 Global Consumer Insights Survey China Report.

Building on the momentum of the Luoyang VR Project, iQIYI is also set to launch three shorter interactive experience projects including Mars Rescue, Kunlun Maze, and Apocalyptic Adventure at the end of June. These projects target particular audience segments—such as couples—and promise to enrich consumers' options for entertainment.

Ronaldo of Yushu

After travelling some 2,500 km, 40 Tibetan kids from a welfare home on the around 4,500-meter-high Qinghai-Tibet Plateau finally set foot on China’s top-level football stadium on June 2.

The 40 kids came from Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Qinghai Province. They stayed in Beijing for five days and took part in a series of exchange activities.

Yushu lies at the source of the Yellow, Yangtze, and Lancang (the upper reaches of the Mekong) rivers. Thirteen years ago, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the area, attracting the world’s attention.

The oldest of the 40 Tibetan kids is 16 and the youngest 7. This was the first time they had visited Beijing. Some of them had never left their hometown or sat in an airline seat. Among them, there were many football lovers, but the lack of professional training has not thwarted their dreams of becoming a player.

On Friday night, these kids showed up at the Beijing Workers’ Stadium, one of the most prestigious stadiums in China, which hosted events related to the 1990 Asian Games and the 2008 Olympic Games. A boy named A Bin, nicknamed the “Ronaldo of Yushu”, and five of his friends served as escorts during a game of CSL (Chinese Football Association Super League). Nearly 50,000 fans in the stadium cheered to welcome these 40 special guests.

During their journey in Beijing, they also participated in many activities on ethnic culture. At an experience hall on the culture and history of Chinese ethnic groups on the former site of the National Mongolian and Tibetan school, Zangba Cicheng (藏巴次成), a boy who enjoys history classes, buried himself in the historical materials from more than 100 years ago. He said that learning history is the best way to understand the country and the nation. While watching the performance of the China Ethnic Song & Dance Ensemble, Dolma Tso(卓玛措), a 13-year-old girl, said that the musical instruments of different ethnic groups have their own characteristics, but produce a very imposing and pleasant sound when played together.

The Palace Museum, the Great Wall, the Bird’s Nest, the Water Cube (the National Aquatics Center)... the places these Tibetan kids have toured are epitomes of not only the history of ancient China, but also the pulse of modern China.

When asked about the reason why they wanted to visit Beijing the most, the kids give various answers. But the hottest answer was “Because Beijing is the capital city of our country.”

The five-day program was organized by China News Service, a mainstream news agency.

“Through this special program during Children’s Day, we hope to warmly welcome the kids so that they will have hope in their eyes and dreams in their hearts. We hope they will have more unforgettable childhood memories and a more promising future,” said Yu Lan, deputy editor-in-chief of China News Service and president of China News Network, the agency’s official website.