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Steven Spielberg, Jack Ma to co-produce films for global, Chinese audiences

People stand near a sign of Alibaba Group at its campus in Hangzhou, China on May 27. Photograph: (Reuters)

Reuters Beijing, China Oct 09, 2016, 04.15 PM (IST)

Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners and Chinese billionaire Jack Ma's Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd announced on Sunday that they will co-produce and finance films for global and Chinese audiences. 

The companies also said in their joint statement that they would also collaborate on the marketing, distribution and merchandising of Amblin Partner films in China. Alibaba Pictures will also acquire a minority stake in Amblin Partners as per the terms of the partnership.

Spielberg briefed the press in Beijing, promising they would "bring more of China to America, and bring some more of America to China."

"Some of the stories I'm hoping Jack and I can tell in this new partnership between Amblin Partners and Alibaba Pictures will be able to bring Chinese-themed stories to the American audience, and we can do co-productions between our company and your company," the filmmaker said.

"I heard a lot of people say the movie industries are dead. I think that's a lack of imagination. All the cinemas in the future are going to be changed because of technology. So people will definitely have all kinds of experiences watching movies," Ma said at the briefing.

The Spielberg-backed Alibaba Pictures, formerly known as ChinaVision Media Group Ltd, has not released any films so far but has several projects in the pipeline. It ventured into Hollywood in 2015 with its stake in 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation', and also invested in this year's blockbusters - 'Star Trek Beyond' and 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'.

There is a huge market for Hollywood films in China and industry watchers forecast that the country will soon surpass the United States as the world's biggest movie market, Reuters reports. 

Major Chinese companies, including the Wanda Group conglomerate, are keen on acquiring US entertainment companies and want to bring more Western films and movie-making prowess into China. 'Warcraft'--- which released this year --- was a box office flop in the US, was one of the highest-grossing films in China, scooping up hundreds of millions of dollars in the country.

In January, Wanda paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in US film studio Legendary Entertainment. The group has also since said it would start co-investing in global blockbusters next year. The conglomerate, which is operated by China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, will also market films for Sony Pictures and co-finance a few upcoming movie releases of Sony Corp's film unit in China.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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