The missing link

Updated: 2013-02-22 17:36

By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)

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The missing link

Another Beijing United Film hit TV series Qiao Family Manor features Chen Jianbin and Ma Yili.

Now, he is chairman of the Beijing Animation & Game Industry Alliance, a testament to his gravitas in that industry, as well as his octopus-like branching into multiple platforms that also include a stage play, a Sichuan Opera production and a puppet show. "My first step was to make the white collar workers laugh, the second step was to woo the children, and the third step was to win over the middle-aged."

The Swordsman windfall also proves his motto: "When mankind loses the ability to associate, what will the world become?" As a matter of fact, this was an advertising slogan he invented for Lenovo two decades ago, and it has not lost an iota of relevancy.

Before Hao got into advertising, he was in the army for a dozen years, working his way up the ranks. Like Hollywood pioneers, Hao did not have systematic training for the entertainment business. But he has the intuition and street smarts typical of an innovator.

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"I don't follow others," he expounds. "Everyone is making anti-Japanese invasion shows, so I will not get on the bandwagon. If you do, the wind will have shifted by the time your show comes out."

Hao is not big on quantity. "China produces up to 20,000 episodes of television drama each year, but only 3,000 to 5,000 have the chance to get on air, and the rest simply end up in the storehouse. If your company has one show shelved, that means the loss of tens of millions of yuan in investment. So, I won't blindly make a show, but rather, tailor-make it for several channels that I know will buy it."

Besides keeping a pulse on the market, Hao also wants his shows to reflect positive values. One project he is working on is about the obscure history of the origins of Peking Opera, as it migrated from Anhui province to Beijing. "The TV stations want me to finish it this year, but a good show will take time. It cannot be hurried."

A show that spawns a long product line has to possess high quality, Hao argues, having produced less works than some of his peers. His winning strategy is quality over quantity and, of course, an uncanny sense of cross-platform branding.

"There is a big gap between China's cultural industry and that of the developed world, and that is the ancillary market. If we can develop that market, our road will be wider."

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Liu Xiangrui contributed to the story.

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