Using the 'fan economy' to build franchises

By Satarupa Bhattacharjya/Mei Jia ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-09-17 07:49:24

Using the 'fan economy' to build franchises

Poster of The Lost Tomb. The shows and films are examples of how online books are being adapted in China. CHINA DAILY

The tradition of outsourcing scriptwriting has been replaced by internal teams at such companies.

"This makes our engagement more active," Dai says.

Both young and old Chinese have shown interest in remakes of South Korean dramas and reality TV shows, encouraging Chinese companies to buy foreign copyrights, too.

Tiny Times, the film franchise on the lives of young, upwardly mobile Chinese, is probably the most successful example of the relatively new business. The four installments so far have made at least $200 million in box-office revenues. The franchise was born from a 2008 novel written by the films' director Guo Jingming. The book was adapted into a musical last year.

The Lost Tomb and Nirvana in Fire are two recent hit web series originally taken from online books for TV.

"The investment risk of turning them (original content) into movies and TV series is quite low. That's why it has become a popular trend," says Gu Wancheng, senior vice-president, projects, Peacock Mountain Culture & Media Ltd, a private Chinese company in Beijing.

It isn't strictly fashioned after Hollywood as Chinese have always liked reading novels and playing video or phone games, she says. Building entertainment franchises has been a longtime business in the United States but companies there have taken the more traditional approach-keeping their eyes trained on best-selling books.

The copyright business is largely driven by the market in China, says celebrated author Liu Cixin, who is the first Chinese to win top global recognition in science fiction for The Three Body Problem, his first book of a trilogy, published in 2008. The three-body problem is a concept in classical mechanics.

A startup to handle copyrights related to science fiction has also been set up in the country, the Xinhua News Agency said in a recent report.

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