Entertainment expert: IP industry needs more patience and people

Wang Feng

Entertainment expert: IP industry needs more patience and people

The lack of investors’ patience and a talent shortage are the top two challenges to the country’s fast-growing intellectual property industry, a pan-entertainment industry expert said.

These are also the factors for an IP adaptation to become successful and sustainable both in profitability and audience satisfaction, said Leon Gao Shouzhi, president and founder of EntGroup — a big-data consulting company for the media and entertainment industry in China.

According to statistics released by EntGroup, revenue for the whole entertainment industry is expected to exceed 650 billion yuan (US$94 billion) this year. And nearly half of it will come from customer subscription and payments for original IP content, which sets up the foundation of the IP industry.

However, problems lurk in the prosperous market. One of them is the lack of patience from investors compared with their overseas counterparts like those in the Hollywood, Gao stressed.

A mature IP usually takes a hatching cycle of 10 years. However, many mainland companies are eager to harvest profits before accumulating a big enough fan base, Gao said. “This made it impossible for the companies to sustain the profitability of the IP content.”

And the capital poured into the newly evolving IP industrial chain in recent years aggravated the situation, he said. Many investors are eager to make fast money without paying due attention to the regular patterns of the industry, he added.

Meanwhile, there is a talent shortage in the industry.

While IP adaptation, a major part of the IP business is rapidly expanding into a whole industrial chain, the talent reserve may not be able to catch up.

“Especially for those with creative ideas and skills, and talents equipped with high-tech expertise, which can’t be there overnight, are urgently needed in the industry,” Gao stressed.

The industry observer took The Journey of Flower as one of the success stories of IP adaptations. The hot TV series was adapted from a web novel telling a love tale in ancient times. And its fantasy scenes also made special appeal to post-1995 audiences.

The TV series broke many viewing records and became the first Chinese TV drama to attract over 20 billion views in 2015.

Its success was extended to the gaming sector. The mobile game and other related products adapted from the same story were well received by the Chinese mainland market and were further distributed to other markets such as Taiwan.

Not all big-hit stories, however, have the luck The Journey of Flower had, Gao said.

“We see that many IP adaptations failed to attract the expected audience’s attention, and profits, too”, Gao told China Daily on the sidelines of the Business of IP Asia Forum.

He cited as examples the films Gone With the Bullets (2014) and Aftershock (2010), both of which had box-office grosses exceeding 500 million yuan (US$73 million), but failed to achieve the same level of market acceptance with their mobile game adaptations.

“These show that IP content compatibility has to be considered in the context of cross-media IP adaptations”, concluded Gao.

Gao is still optimistic about the future of China’s IP industry. “I believe the prospects will become better,” he said.

On the upstream, China has more locally created IPs, Gao said. The post-2000 generation grew up with home-made cartoons, unlike before, when Japanese manga and Hollywood cartoons were the most popular in the country, he elaborated.

Downstream, there is a fast-growing market that saw more online users willing to pay for IP products. This means the market environment is more favorable for the industry, he said.