China’s web fiction adaptation market is heating up



The intellectual property (IP) of online novels is increasingly becoming a mainstay of the entire digital entertainment industry in China.

During the ten-day Shanghai International Film Festival’s film carnival, which opened on Friday, films adapted from online novels gained attention.

Adapting online literature to TV series and feature films, which are two popular pastimes for Chinese audiences, appears to have huge market potential. Among the top-grossing online films in China so far this year, 10 out of 28 have been web novel adaptations.

According to data provider Analysys, online fiction novels and their derivatives – such as adapted animation, films, video games and collectibles – have occupied 40% of the digital entertainment market. This market segment has also attracted more content creators.

But experts say there’s more potential value that hasn’t been tapped.

Huang Changyong, director of the Shanghai Drama Academy, pointed out that web novels can be made into more than TV and movie adaptations. They can be used as content in tourism, education and more.

Web novel stories are mostly about fantasy, royal family drama, and romance. There should be more stories about contemporary events and modern life, Huang said.

The number of online writers in China has grown from more than one million to 20 million in 2020, a third of them full-time, according to Analysys.

The protection of intellectual property remained an issue to be further addressed in the online domain. Analysys found that 4 in 10 online novelists said they constantly faced copyright infringement issues.

(Fu Jiamei also contributed to the story)


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