BEIJING — Youku.com Inc., China’s leading Internet television company, will host the exclusive premiere of the new film The Ultimate Winner on April 21. The 30-minute short is a co-production of Youku, China Mobile, and the “Chopsticks Brothers” — the directors of the short film Old Boys, which won the hearts of audiences around the country last year as part of Youku’s “11 Degrees” New Media Film Project.
A partnership between Youku and the China Film Group and GM Chevrolet, the “11 Degrees” project sponsored ten short films last year, and will produce a feature-length film later this year.
Through the “11 Degrees” project, Youku partnered with promising young directors to create films that aimed at engaging the site’s young, professional viewers — and with a total of approximately 86 million views to date, the films promoted in the project appear to have succeeded. “Old Boys” was the runaway hit of the series, with more than 32 million views, 800,000 “thumbs up” votes, and 88,000 comments on Youku since it premiered in late October.
Similar to “Old Boys”, “The Ultimate Winner” will make its debut online, first appearing exclusively on Youku before becoming available on other platforms. In a recent interview, the Chopsticks Brothers spoke enthusiastically about the potential of online media for filmmakers. “I want to stick with online video,” said Xiao Yang — one half of the duo. “It allows me to make films that express what I want, and it doesn’t have the limitations or the more exacting demands of feature-length movies.”
The Chopsticks Brothers are not the only “11 Degrees” directors to build upon their online success.
. Pi San, the director and animator behind Miss Puff’s Goldfish Bowl, another “11 Degrees” title, launched the ambitious, marketing-supported 104-episode Miss Puff web series in early April. The first episode has been viewed more than 1.8 million times to date, and GM and Lenovo have signed on as sponsors of the series.
. Zhang Yaguang, director of The Boxer’s Secret, recently finished production on his first commercial film, and L.I. director Zhang Yadong has said that he will partner with Youku again on his next film.
. Yin Lichuan, the well-known poet who wrote and directed Ai, is also at work on her first feature-length film, in which she has invited the Chopsticks Brothers to play supporting roles.
“We are proud to have been able to work with so many talented young writers and directors to help launch their careers,” said Frank Wei, Senior Vice President of Youku. “’11 Degrees’ wasn’t our first project with young filmmakers — that would have been Lu Zhenyu’s Hip-Hop Office Quartet, China’s first web serial — and it won’t be our last, either. We have faith in the power of the web as a launch pad and passion for helping artists tell their stories.”
“Youku Original has been a critical element of our branding strategy and a key differentiation from other companies,” said Victor Koo, Chairman and CEO of Youku. “Content is strategically important for us, and we will continue to invest in content — both in content that we produce ourselves, and in copyrighted content that we license from rights holders.”
Youku Original is a key part of the Company’s content strategy, which pursues a combination of licensed professionally produced content, self-produced content from Youku Original, and user-uploaded content.
Youku.com Inc. is China’s leading Internet television company. Our Internet television platform enables users to search, view and share high-quality video content quickly and easily across multiple devices. Youku, which stands for “what’s best and what’s cool” in Chinese, is the most recognized online video brand in China.
SOURCE: Youku.com / PRNewswire-Asia (20/04/2011)