Xiaomi, Huayi Brothers form production venture

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Chinese film studio Huayi Brothers Media has pacted with smartphone giant Xiaomi to create a new production venture, New Saint, based in Beijing.

Initially focused on screenwriting and talent development, the start-up forms part of Xiaomi’s strategy to expand from hardware into the highly competitive content business.

Tech titans Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have all rolled out content divisions over the past few years. Conversely, LeTV, which started out with streaming and content production in 2004, has moved into production of smartphones and smart TVs.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun told China Daily: “Xiaomi will make more investments to build one of the biggest video content pools in the industry. It is important for us to beat competitors.”

The start-up has already recruited talent including director Gu Changwei (Peacock) and Guan Hu (Mr Six), while screenwriter Tian Yusheng (Lost On Journey) is a co-founder. “We want to promote screenwriting and the significance of screenwriters to film projects,” said Tian.

Xiaomi announced in late 2014 that it planned to invest $1bn in online video content and hired Sina’s former editor-in-chief Chen Tong to oversee the expansion. The company later invested in Chinese streaming platforms iQiyi and Youku Tudou.