China's Weying Takes Global Stake in Paramount's 'Ghost in the Shell' (Exclusive)

The deal gives the Chinese ticketing service a 10 percent share in the film’s worldwide box-office revenue.

Chinese online ticketing platform Weying has taken a stake in Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Scarlett Johansson, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The investment was made through Weying Galaxy Entertainment, Weying’s Hong Kong-based joint venture, which was set up in December to invest in international movies. The deal gives Weying a 10 percent share of global ticket revenue, along with a logo in the film’s end credits.

Weying first partnered with Paramount as a local marketing partner on xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, which has earned $163 million in China since its release Feb. 10 — more than three times its North American haul. 

More than 70 percent of all movie tickets are sold online in China — compared to an estimated 20 percent in the U.S. — making such the service is an indispensable part of film marketing in the country.

Usually ranked among China’s top-three ticketing services, Weying is integrated with Tencent’s popular chat apps, WeChat and QQ, each of which counts some 700 million active users.The platform covers about 6,500 cinemas in China, and it expanded its service to Hong Kong and Malaysia last year. The company was founded in 2014 by CEO David Lim. Its other backers include Wanda, China Media Capital and China Culture Investment Fund.

Other key players in the Chinese online ticketing space include: Maoyan, which counts leading Beijing film studio Enlight Media as a backer; Alibaba’s Tao Piao Piao service; Nuomi, from Chinese search giant Baidu; and Mtime, currently in the process of integrating with the ticketing app of Dalian Wanda Group, which purchased Mtime for $350 million last year.

Weying Galaxy Entertainment is a joint venture formed by Weying and private equity firm Lead Capital last December. Lead Capital general partner Johnny Hsu is chairman of Weying Galaxy, while Gary Locke, the former U.S. ambassador to China, serves as a special advisor. 

In September 2016, Weying launched production subsidiary Nextainment Pictures to develop and produce film projects in-house.

Ghosts in the Shell will be released March 31 in North America, and April 7 in China.