May 19, 2024

Xixi Pictures Sets Its Sights on Building a Global Brand for Chinese TV Drama

China‘s Xixi Pictures has arrived at the 61st MIPTV buoyed by a slate of recent successes that have helped the Shanghai-based production house celebrate its fourth anniversary, but the company is nevertheless keen also to share with the international content community what’s on the immediate horizon. Over the past 12 months, Xixi’s development has been”, — write:

China‘s Xixi Pictures has arrived at the 61st MIPTV buoyed by a slate of recent successes that have helped the Shanghai-based production house celebrate its fourth anniversary, but the company is nevertheless keen also to share with the international content community what’s on the immediate horizon.

Over the past 12 months, Xixi’s development has been pushed along by four significant productions that founder and CEO Yang Xiaopei says reflect an increased diversity not only “in house” but in terms of viewing demands across a global audience increasingly turning its head toward Chinese-produced content.

The school-age drama The Youth Memories, the domestic drama Alliance, as well as the fantasy The Last Immortal and the family drama Island were all able to find impressive audience reach across the state broadcaster CCTV, as well as on the streaming platform Tencent Video and the VOD service Mango TV.

The Youth Memories and Alliance were two of only three productions to make it to Tencent Video’s annual “hit series” list this past year, while The Youth Memories scored a 7.5 rating on the influential Douban social media platform and Islands rated 7.3.

“In the coming 12 months, Xixi Pictures will keenly observe the evolving trends in the global film and TV market, actively engaging in international festivals to showcase our creations to audiences worldwide,” says Yang. “Insights gained from these global platforms will shape our upcoming productions, as we aim to craft narratives that resonate with universal themes and highlight the power of women.”

Island certainly aimed to do just that, tapping into the Chinese content market’s shift towards expanding away from more traditional genres like historical and fantasy epics. The series is focused on three generations of women from one family, and looks at “challenges related to family, love and career, leading to growth and mutual support.”

The series was aired during prime time on national broadcaster CCTV-1 during the bumper Spring Festival viewing period — a first for a Xixi Pictures production.

“This timing, coupled with its impressive viewership ratings, underscores its importance,” says Yang, referring to an increased interest in female-centric plot-lines and productions in China.

“Xixi Pictures consistently focuses on creating content that’s both current and deeply relatable, crafting narratives that genuinely touch and warm the hearts of our audience,” she adds. “Islands features a cast of characters that embody the evolving strength of women in today’s society.”

The series is also focused on plotlines that drive its characters towards finding solutions for the myriad family and social problems life throws at them.

“We believe that while our stories should capture the intricacies of life, they should also shed light on hope and positivity, ensuring a warm and uplifting narrative thread throughout,” says Yang. “Islands represents Xixi Pictures’ newest venture into innovatively narrating Chinese tales, showcasing the experiences of women in ways that transcend cultural and geographical boundaries and engage with contemporary public conversations.”

Island is among the Xixi productions whose themes have resonated across global audiences, with Chinese, English and Spanish versions available via YouTube’s Jetsen Huashi Idol & Romance channel. That channel has also been hosting The Youth Memories, with Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic versions available — and audience numbers topping six million.

Xixi has brought five of its most recent productions to Cannes, with three costume dramas (Si JinBai Yi Gong Qing, and Hu Shanwei) joined by the more contemporary focused Huanyu and Six Sisters.

“These productions not only showcase Xixi Pictures’ professional production capabilities and content expressiveness across diverse genres but also demonstrate the profound essence of Chinese culture and the fresh face of contemporary China’s development through compelling stories and nuanced portrayals,” says Yang. “Xixi Pictures hopes that by participating in this event, it will further the international spread of Chinese culture, tell China’s stories well, and allow global audiences to understand China more comprehensively and deeply, experiencing the unique charm of Chinese film and TV culture.”

Yang and her team are also keen to explain to international partners the company’s recent shifts in content strategy while in Cannes.

“Xixi Pictures’ content strategy has undergone a comprehensive upgrade, now encompassing two main areas: the ‘I and X domains,” explains Yang. “The ‘I domain’ signifies areas of our profound dedication and prowess, including costume dramas, narratives rich in feminine perspectives, and reflections of the zeitgeist. The ‘X domain’ is all about pushing boundaries and venturing into new territories with youth-centric narratives, mysteries and detective stories, and exciting adaptations from the worlds of gaming and comics.”

In that regard, Yang continues to track audience trends, both domestically and globally, along with a dedicated team she says ensures that Xixi content “stays relevant and resonates with our viewers.”

While this research concentrates on the likes of the Chinese social media giants Douban and Weibo, Yang also points to the trends revealed by the 2023 Tencent Entertainment White Paper.

“According to [the White Paper], IP-adapted series were extremely popular, making up over 60 percent of the top 50 hottest dramas, with sources of IP becoming increasingly varied,” says Yang. “Apart from comics and serious literature, novels from burgeoning online communities like Zhihu and Douban have become new hotspots for adaptations.”

Many of these tap into the storylines Xixi is keen on exploring, says Yang.

“Xixi Pictures always focuses on the destinies of small characters under grand historical themes, exploring the vast worlds these seemingly insignificant figures live in,” Yang explains. “These everyday figures are the truest reflections of ourselves, and we strive to portray their stories with a blend of realism and artistry. Our goal is to move beyond the clichés of traditional storytelling, adopting a straightforward yet nuanced approach to explore real-life challenges and solutions.”

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