Jack Ma, the most successful business leader in Chinese Internet industries, and Steven Spielberg, the most famous master of films in Hollywood, were sitting and chatting together.
On 9th October 2016, Alibaba Pictures, together with the American film company, Amblin Partners, held a strategic conference in Beijing. Jack Ma, the chairman of Alibaba and Steven Spielberg, the well-known filmmaker, were presented at the conference, and had a cross-over discussion about film as well as western and eastern cultures.
Before this discussion took place, the two parties announced that they were to reach an agreement on strategic cooperation, according to which, Alibaba Pictures would purchase a stake of Amblin Partners, and become its strategic stakeholder. A representative from Alibaba would be joining its board of directors. Alibaba Pictures and Amblin Partners would cooperate closely in the fields of investment, joint production, derivatives as well as publicity and distribution.
Amblin Partners had been a company for less than one year, but it had received significant attention, because its founder and chairman is Steven Spielberg, a film director with a worldwide reputation. In December 2015, Spielberg announced that he was going to establish Amblin Partners together with other three company firms, including Participant Media, and would dedicate it to the making of films, TV, and digital entertainment products. The latest work from Amblin was The Big Foot Giant directed by Steven Spielberg.
The cooperation with Alibaba Pictures was the first time that Amblin Partners received capital from China, also the first time that Alibaba collaborated with a Hollywood company.
The highlight of the conference was definitely the conversation between Jack Ma and Steven Spielberg. They started with the film E.T., and Jack Ma humorously said that he had some similarities with ET: one was the unique appearance, the other was the friendliness they both conveyed. He said many people regarded alien to be bad creatures, but the film E.T. was trying to tell the audience that aliens were friendly and kind. In his opinion, Hollywood was good at telling stories, and showing values that inspired and resonated with people.
Then, the topic changed to the further development of film industries. Spielberg believed that the interactive mode of filmmaking would be transforming films in the future, but that film itself would not disappear. He also talked about virtual reality, which he thought to be the best interactive style ever since. “For example, if people want to travel to the Grand Canyon, they can have the feeling of actually being there by VR tools. And VR technology could also be applied in education and shopping, etc.” But Spielberg reckoned that no matter how the mode evolved, experiences in real life could not be replaced, especially the everyday communication with others.
At the end of the discussion, the host asked Jack Ma what kind of film would he shoot if he were a director?
Jack Ma answered like this: “In fact, I am already a director. I have been directing Alibaba for so many years. Ten years ago, I told my employees that Alibaba, Alipay and Taobao were all the works of art that we produced for the world. And the marvellous thing was that we survived and are now really happy. I don’t like tragic endings, and it would be nice if every film as well as Alibaba could end in happiness, and make the audience feel the joy, just as the movies of Spielberg have done.”
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