Tinseltown Lures Chinese Consumers Through Mobile Games

By Pamela Ambler, for

As U.S. movie box office sales continue to decline, Hollywood studios are looking to Asia for new opportunities. Not only are they wooing Chinese movie goers, they’re also trying to capture gamers who make up an additional revenue stream. Now a Hong Kong startup is aiming to bridge the gap between the city of dreams and Chinese gamers.


[As US movie box office sales continue to decline, Hollywood studios are looking to Asia for new opportunities. Not only are they appealing to Chinese movie goers, they’re also trying to capture gamers who make up additional revenue streams. Now a Hong Kong startup is aiming to bridge the gap between the city of dreams and mainland gamers.

With an eye on China, three major Hollywood studios are taking stakes in a startup from Hong Kong. Mobile game developer Fifth Journey was founded just over a year ago by Eric Tan.

A former sales executive at Electronic Arts in Asia, Tan was responsible for bringing Despicable Me’s Minion Rush to mainland China.

It’s one of the most successful ‘interactive entertainment’ platforms to enter the market.

Players can purchase movie tickets, stream clips, and even buy merchandise like t-shirts and toys.

“So for the fans its very simple, it’s a one stop shop, that relates to the IP all within one click. For Hollywood it’s an entertainment solution where we converge all these different auxiliary revenue lines all within the app,” Tan said.

Interactives including games make up almost a third of movie revenue streams,and with China’s online gaming sector growing annually at an average 30% for the past eight years, it’s little wonder Hollywood wants to get in on the act.

China’s box office receipts have grown nearly 50% in the past two years. If the trend continues, it’ll overtake the US by 2018. Added to that, Chinese consumers have leap-frogged the West with 600-million internet users, with 80% of them accessing the internet through smart devices. But not every blockbuster game out of the US translates into success in China.

“Chinese gaming behaviour can be very different to that in the west. We had to adjust the difficulty, we had to change certain monetization mechanics in order to suit the local taste,” Tan said.

And there are challenges around publication. iOS and Google Play are the main mobile retail channels in the US. But China’s has hundreds of different platforms.

And so movie-makers from the US are likely to collaborate more and more with the mainland, much like the industry in Hong Kong has done.

“In the past ten years, a lot of success for Hong Kong movies are co-produced films with mainland China film industry. It kind of moves towards one direction, it’s always entertaining and always for the mainland China market,” HK film producer Andrew Choi said.

One thing’s for sure, Tinseltown will be rolling out more red carpets to win over Chinese consumers.]

March 15, 2016