Spotlight turns on crowdfunding in China’s film industry

Shanghai, July 29 (IANS) The success of China-made animation “Monkey King: Hero is Back” has turned the spotlight here on a rising mode of internet finance – crowdfunding.

The novel fundraising channel impressed many Chinese movie-goers when “Monkey King: Hero is Back” presented a long producer list that included 109 children whose parents pooled money to aid in the movie’s marketing.

Parents, who have invested a total of 7 million yuan ($1.1 million), will get more than 30 million yuan in return thanks to the film’s immense box office success, Xinhua reported.

The “Monkey King” amassed 700 million yuan in ticket sales as of Tuesday, beating “Kung Fu Panda 2” as the top-grossing animated film in Chinese cinemas.

Lu Wei, producer of the film, said he posted the crowdfunding bid on WeChat, a mobile messaging app, in late 2014 when the film was near completion.

The initiative attracted many parents who made donations ranging from several thousands to over 100,000 yuan.

“Their participation contributed greatly to the movie — they are not just funders, but also enthusiastic promoters who actively advertised for the film. Some booked the entire cinema for the film’s screening,” he said.

Crowdfunding, which allows a project to raise funds from a large number of people via the internet, has been a vogue in China’s movie industry, with several blockbusters, including the Tiny Times franchise, rolling out such projects to pool funding and fan popularity.

The concept is gaining traction in China where the government has been encouraging innovative fundraising to help money-strapped business startups.

Statistics from Yingcan Consulting show China’s crowdfunding platforms increased to 211 by the end of June, raising more than 4.6 billion yuan in the first half of the year.

Industry insiders say it will take a while for China’s crowdfunding to grow into a mature fundraising channel to benefit both small investors and businesses. The sector needs better transparency and risk control as well as more success stories to boost public confidence.

“The crowdfunding sector needs to make a fortune before it can tell its success stories,” said Li Qunlin, CEO of crowdfunding platform dajiatou.com, adding that the market is still under cultivation and needs time to bloom.

 

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