Chinese online game developer and operator Giant Interactive Group is getting into China’s booming movie business, local media report said. According to the reports on Monday, the company has formed a new subsidiary called Giant Pictures.
It is the first major move Giant has made since it was privatized in 2014 in a USD 3 billion deal and then relisted in China via Shenzhen-listed Chongqing New Century Cruise in a reverse merger worth USD 2.1 billion. Giant Pictures will develop film and television projects, as well as invest in other intellectual property and entertainment industry investments.
The studio plans to draw on its own gaming IP to create novels, online and TV dramas, as well as feature films as well as invest in other projects.
Giant Interactive CEO Liu Wei told local media that the company has some experience with the film industry though having worked with local celebrities including Fan Bingbing, Yang Mi, and Wang Baoqiang. Giant also hired director Zhang Yimou’s production designer and art director on the films Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Huo Tingxiao, a to be visual director on Jianghu, a 2D Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG).
Giant Interactive Group, Inc. is a Chinese developer and operator of massively multiplayer online (MMO) games. Many of its games are designed on a free-to-play model. Users can play the games at no cost, but will need to purchase virtual products and services within the game. Giant Interactive operates 13 games, including ten MMORPGs, one casual massively multiplayer online game, and two strategy web games. Its game roster includes ZT Online, ZT Online PTP, ZT Online Green Edition, ZT Online 2, ZT Online Classic Edition, King of Kings III, My Sweetie, Giant Online, Dragon Soul, XT Online, and The Golden Land.
“Giant Interactive has been ambitious to get into the entertainment industry for awhile now” said David Hao, Managing Partner at Elements Capital in Beijing. The move follows earlier announcements by Chinese game developers including Netease, Youzu Interactive and Linekong that they were moving into film projects. “I think it is a big trend that everyone is moving to” said Hao. “It’s just a matter of when.”
Giant Interactive revealed a strong interest in the film industry when it became an anchor investor in a recent RMB 10 billion capital campaign by Wanda Pictures. “Given the upcoming high possibility of success for the World of Warcraft film, I think more Chinese companies will be pumped to jump in,” said Hao, referring to the imminent release in China of one of the movie version of one of the most popular MMORPGs of all time.
Expectations are high for the Warcraft film with pre-sales for its opening day on Wednesday already hitting RMB 95.2 million ($14.5 million). According to GF Securities, at least 10 percent of the total 100 million players of Activision Blizzard Inc.’s World of Warcraft game are based in China.
There is huge potential for more game-to-movie adaptations in the future as the gaming industry continues to expand. China’s video games industry is estimated to be worth $24.4 billion this year, making it the biggest market for game publishers, according to research firm Newzoo.