Spotlight on Enlight: Wang Changtian oversees Chinese media giant

Wang Changtian, president of China’s largest and fastest-growing private media entertainment company, Enlight Media, will be honored with the CineAsia Production & Filmmaker Award on Dec. 12 at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.

Wang Changtian, president of China’s largest and fastest-growing private media entertainment company, Enlight Media, will be honored with the CineAsia Production & Filmmaker Award on Dec. 12 at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong.

Wang has been a pioneer in China's privately operated media and entertainment industry since beginning at Enlight Media in October 1998. Under his leadership, Enlight Media has shown dynamic growth; on August 3, 2011, it was listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Enlight's services cover all six key areas of the modern entertainment industry in China: television production and marketing; large variety shows and award ceremonies; film investment, production and distribution; investing in and distributing television shows; an agency for actors and others in the creative industries; and new-media distribution. Enlight holds a leading position in each of these areas, and has operated profitably in all for more than ten years. It is one of the top three privately held film companies in China.

The success of Enlight’s debut film Confession of Pain in 2006 marked the beginning of the company’s rise in the movie world, followed by a number of popular titles, many of which were produced by Wang himself. In 2009, Enlight Pictures began to invest in big-budget productions such as City Under Siege, Mural, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, All’s Well Ends Well 2010, the Four series, and The Assassins. Enlight Pictures' 2012 film Lost in Thailand grossed more than US$200 million, and remains the highest-grossing film in China. So far in 2013, Enlight Pictures has released highly anticipated titles such as The Chef, The Actor, The Scoundrel, which stars four Golden Horse Award winners; Peter Chan’s American Dreams in China, and renowned actress Vicky Zhao's directorial debut, So Young.

Film Journal International corresponded with Mr. Wang by e-mail to learn more about his company’s remarkable growth.

Film Journal International: What inspired you to get into the entertainment business?
Wang Changtian: I entered the business from entertainment media. Fifteen years ago, I was doing entertainment news programs. While understanding and broadcasting [in] the entertainment business, I pictured that I'd be soon getting into the very core of entertainment—for example, film. Enlight aims to integrate media and entertainment into a streamlined structure like those of U.S. entertainment and media groups.

FJI: What’s the secret behind your company’s rapid growth?
WC: Throughout the 15 years since the establishment of Enlight Media, we've been following our only strategy: "Content is King," even during the hard times of the industry. That's what motivates and fuels our growth.

FJI: What are the greatest challenges you face in China?
WC: What I think of now is the challenge from new media. I'm concerned with how to deal with it, adapt to it, and utilize it to boost our content's production and marketing. Enlight is now investing in quite a few new-media companies to catch up with the industry trend.

FJI: How much of your time is devoted to producing feature films?
WC: About 50% of my time is given to film-related affairs, including vacations and holidays. Probably the number of Chinese directors as well as film production companies I've met and talked to is the greatest in China.

FJI: Recent Chinese films have been very successful at the box office in China. What’s the reason behind that trend?
WC: Chinese filmmakers have recently gotten to catch and understand topics and genres that can serve the Chinese audience well. These topics are rarely seen in American films. At the same time, the rise of new directors has brought light and energy to the market. Enlight has discovered a great number of new directors. We've presented seven directorial debuts since last year and they've grossed a total box office of 2.5-plus billion RMB.

FJI: Which markets outside of China have been most successful for your films?
WC: Currently, Asia is our main international market. We also expect expanding success and growing importance in the U.S. and Europe through our ongoing co-production works with the U.S.

FJI: Which upcoming Enlight films are you most excited about?
WC: I'm very excited about Lost in Hong Kong, The Breakup Guru, Left Ear... These films are varied in genres and styles. I hope they will become the leaders in their own market next year. We're expecting 15 films to be distributed in 2014, targeting a total box office of four billion RMB.

FJI: Have any Western films had an influence on you as a producer?

WC: Western films have influenced me, for sure. Production of Chinese film combines traits of traditional Chinese, Hong Kong and Western film. In a way, Enlight is heading to the Western trend of filmmaking and, in fact, the Chinese film industry is increasingly Westernized. Except that there are limitations of content and genres as censored in China.

FJI: Which of the six entertainment divisions of Enlight Media is seeing the fastest growth?
WC: The film division, to be specific, Enlight Pictures is the fastest-growing division of Enlight. It's taken 60 percent plus of the whole of Enlight's income. And Enlight's films' took 20 percent last year and 25 percent this year of the total box office of the Chinese film market. We're expecting 30 percent this year.

FJI: Are there new businesses Enlight Media is considering?
WC: In addition to our existing TV programs, films, etc., Enlight is putting a lot of strength in developing and investing in game and new-media businesses with regards to content production.

FJI: How do you feel about the expansion of Chinese companies into the United States?

WC: Enlight is trying to make some investment in U.S.-relevant business, like the Marvel comic company. The China market is always taken into consideration when we make these decisions. The works have to be appealing to not only Chinese consumers, but also those in the U.S. and other countries. 

FJI: How do you feel about the recognition from this year's CineAsia?

WC: Many thanks. I owe this honor to the rapidly growing film market of China. It's only a beginning for Enlight and me. We will continue to achieve better and more to be the best content provider.