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iQiyi buys rights to turn 'The Mermaid' into TV series

By Owen Fishwick | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-06-15 13:02

iQiyi buys rights to turn 'The Mermaid' into TV series

A scene from The Mermaid [Photo provided to China Daily]

Online streaming site iQiyi has paid a record 420 million yuan ($61.8 million) for the rights to remake China's all-time highest-grossing movie, The Mermaid into a television series.

Film and television production company Shanghai New Culture Media Group revealed in a regulatory filing that it had sold the exclusive online streaming rights to Beijing-based iQiyi.

The blockbuster, written, produced and directed by Stephen Chow grossed 3.39 billion yuan at the box office when it was released in 2016.

As well as being China's highest-grossing movie, The Mermaid broke numerous box office records upon its release, including biggest opening day sales and biggest single day sales in its opening week.

The movie tells the story of a playboy businessman who falls in love with a mermaid that has been sent to assassinate him.

In a similar filing it has also been reported that iQiyi has purchased the online streaming rights to serialize another of Chow's movies, this time Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back which was released during Spring Festival this year.

The deal emphasizes the impact streaming video on demand (SVOD) has had on the Chinese market. According to financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co, China's online subscribers for SVOD will hit 144 million this year, accounting for 26.9 percent of all digital video viewers.

Similarly, SVOD companies such as iQiyi and Tencent have been capitalizing on the market to create more original content and increase revenues from subscribers instead of relying solely on advertisers.

At an industry conference held in Beijing on June 9, iQiyi announced that it will connect its online movie business with its open platformto enable movie producers to take advantage of iQiyi's data analytics, artificial intelligence and marketing resources.

Yang Xianghua, senior vice-president of iQiyi, said the decision redefines the way that movie producers can access their audiences.

"iQiyi will provide an open platform to connect content creators with viewers in a more intelligent manner and help them in content creation, operation as well as monetization," Yang said.

"By doing so, we can effectively lower the risks for content creators and share a vision with all of our partners."

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