Here’s how Tencent, the social media titan behind WeChat, is transforming into an entertainment and cinematic powerhouse.
Tencent is best known as the maker of WeChat. What few people know is the Chinese social media giant is a growing powerhouse in entertainment and cinema.
It has invested in big-budget Hollywood films like Wonder Woman, Kong: Skull Island, and Warcraft. That last one really makes sense because World of Warcraft is huge in China.
At its disposal is the internet behemoth’s more than 1.7 billion combined social network user base, plus one of China’s top streaming sites. That’s what makes Tencent’s entertainment machine so remarkable – it has such a huge, captive audience, more than Amazon Studios or Netflix can even dream of.
Pony Ma, Tencent’s founder and CEO, says the two-year-old film studio, dubbed Tencent Pictures, taps into two things: content and connection.
Movies aside, it’s also investing in TV series, animations, and made-for-the-web shows.
Entertainment is actually a big part of Tencent’s DNA. In 2003, the fast-growing firm branched out from social media with its online gaming business. Over the years, it has made an art form out of packaging, dismantling, repackaging, and reselling its content across all kinds of mediums. And with a flex of its social media arm, Tencent easily pulls users in.
One venture capitalist describes Tencent’s ecosystem as having “a lot of users inside its walled garden, and everybody needs entertainment, which it provides.”
With the release of Kong: Skull Island in March, Tencent pulled out all the stops. WeChat dived deep into its trove of data, sending as many as 46 million targeted advertisements to lure its users into cinemas with Kong emoji stickers. Plus, Kong giveaways in ad campaigns targeted 12 of its most popular games.
And the tell-tale sign of its success? The Kong movie raked in $169 million in China, larger than the take from the US and Canada combined.
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