• Youku Tudou is one of the firms who joined the latest film trend of turning miniseries into movies.

Youku Tudou is one of the firms who joined the latest film trend of turning miniseries into movies. (Photo : Reuters)

Online hits, especially miniseries, are now expected to conquer the big screen, as filmmakers venture into the latest film trend: adapting these Web-released videos and making a movie out of them.

Recently, Internet colossus announced that the series of short comedies entitled "Surprise" will be turned into a feature-length film. The online hit aired over China's leading video-streaming site Youku and has attracted over two billion clicks since its 2013 release.

Like Us on Facebook

The show was composed of 31 five-minute episodes and had two seasons. It covers wide-ranging topics such as historical legends, ancient novels and modern-day life. Its crafty use of buzzwords and slang, often mixed with amusement and satire, has kept viewers supporting the miniseries.

Yi Zhenxing, the series and its film adaption's director, said, "the right time has come." The 31-year-old director said that he will stick to the conventional filmmaking process, setting the movie apart from the online episodes.

Best-selling author who has recently made a foray into the film industry, Han Han, will be the production designer, keeping an eye on the movie's multiple processes, from soundtrack to screenplay.

The film will be produced by Huang Jianxin, a leader in the Chinese film industry. According to him, he joined the film because of "curiosity and admiration for [its] creativity."

The "Surprise" movie version will have an identical cast to that of the miniseries, with actor Luo Hongming on the lead. It will begin filming this month. However, the release date is yet to be announced.

According to Gu Yongqiang, CEO of Youku, "the film is to better serve fans of our online shows. It's a surprise not only to see that an online show has become a phenomenon within two years, but a promising future of a fan-based economy. I wish 'Surprise' could be a miracle among spinoffs of Chinese online shows."

The firm has been making a similar attempt of turning miniseries into movies. Last summer, the "Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon," which was based on a short film released on its website, has pulled in over 200 million yuan.

Meanwhile, Gu has also hinted that it will be partnering with smartphone-maker Xiaomi to create more movie spinoffs from online hits.

In 2014, Youku established its film unit, Heyi Pictures. Its CEO, Zhu Huilong, said that the future of filmmaking will require players to target more than just cinemas.

As part of this thrust, the film unit released in April its plan to annually take nine full-length films to out-of-cinema audiences.

"If any of them is particularly well-received, we will further invest to upgrade it into a feature film to be shown in cinemas as well," Zhu earlier remarked.

Apart from Youku, e-commerce giant Alibaba's film unit has also revealed its plan to bring the online fantasy novel "Sansheng Sanshi Sili Taohua" to the big screen.

Moreover, "Jianbing Man," a superhero movie based on a miniseries, is also slated for release next month.

Yin Hong, a media professor at Tsinghua University, said: "The Internet's influence now can be seen not only in the art form but also in the shooting techniques of many productions."

"It can help a movie gain quick recognition among younger audiences and bring a 'grassroots feel' to films," Yin added.