Alibaba sees more China-Hollywood deals after `Green Book’ win

Joe Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba is cautiously optimistic a trade between China and US will be materialised. (Bloomberg pic)

LOS ANGELES: After becoming the first Chinese Internet company to back a best picture Oscar winner, Alibaba Group Holding is eyeing more Hollywood movies.

The company also expects that more US goods and services will be imported into China, and that the US trade deficit with China will narrow.

Joe Tsai, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that he was cautiously optimistic that a trade deal between the two countries will be reached.

He also said that Chinese domestic consumption has become a bigger part of China’s economy, driving imports.

“China is going to be more open for imports, not just in goods, but also in services, including content,” Tsai said.

Those imports include movies. Hollywood studios have been hoping for an increase in the number of American films allowed into China, which is expected to soon overtake the US as the world’s biggest box office market, and to increase its share of global ticket revenue.

Sunday’s Oscar winner, “Green Book,” is an example of the quality of the productions the e-commerce giant wants to be involved with, Tsai said.

Alibaba has invested for several years in individual films like installments of the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Other Chinese companies such as Perfect World have backed portfolios of films.

“Green Book,” which faced criticism over the accuracy of its handling of real-world events, will open in China on March 1 with tickets for sale on Alibaba’s platforms. “We see the opportunity to bring high-quality content into China,” Tsai said.

Alibaba is a co-financier of “Green Book.” The film was distributed in the US by Universal Pictures.