iQiyi has launched an offline on-demand movie theatre, Yuke, in a bid to showcase the content and convenience of the online entertainment platform.
iQiyi has opened the first Yuke theatre in Guangdong with plans to launch more throughout China in the coming months.
Yuke theatres will enable consumers to select the content, as well as the time and location for viewing. The small-scale theatre will feature all the technology and facilities of standard cinemas, including Dolby audio and THX certification from Lucasfilm.
iQiyi said the aim was to combine the high-quality audio-visual environment of a traditional movie cinema with the convenience of on-demand content in order to bolster the brand. The cinemas will also enable iQiyi to integrate retail services and merchandise into its offering.
Yang Xianghua, senior vice president of iQiyi, said the move would also help to “increase the strength and overall scale of China’s film industry”.
“iQIYI will take advantage of our strong brand awareness, massive user base, popular content and advanced technology to contribute to the growth of this booming market and extend our premium viewing experience to offline consumers.”
China currently produces close to 1,000 films each year, however, only half of these films are played in cinemas. iQiyi hopes Yuke theatres will help to boost this number and will include its box office numbers in China’s official box office figures.
The move comes as iQiyi continues to face off with Tencent Video and Youku Todou in a fierce battle for Chinese viewers.
iQiyi reported it had 61.3 million paid subscribers in March 2018, meanwhile, the platform's average monthly active mobile users reached 421.3 million, and average monthly PC users reached 424.1 million, in December.
The move follows a number of recent content deals, including an exclusive three-year deal with FilmNation Entertainment, which has films such as Arrival and The Big Sick.
iQiyi boasts it has China's largest online movie content library and recently shared its plans to become an entertainment kingdom with The Drum.
Earlier this year, iQiyi raised more than $2.2bn in its IPO and said the investment would be used to enhance its technology platform and content library.