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How Hong Kong Star Louis Koo’s Empire Goes Beyond Big Screen Hits

Actor Louis Koo is a household name in Hong Kong but off-screen, he’s an influential entertainment industry investor, producer and entrepreneur.

Rising to prominence during the “golden age” of Hong Kong cinema, Koo built a respected career over the decades but less flashy are his businesses and investments.

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One Cool Group is one such revenue stream. Launched by Koo in 2013, the company has transitioned from a local film production entity to a dominant force in the Asian film industry. With over 300 staff across offices in Hong Kong, mainland China, Thailand and South Korea, the company manages every aspect of filmmaking from financing to distribution.

One Cool Group announced a slate of five films March 11 during FilMart.

“Diversified development has always been our major goal, like last year, when we broadened our business scope to music concerts and theatrical play production,” said Sean Man, One Cool Group’s business development and communications director.

Besides producing and distributing local films like “Wild City,” “Golden Ducks” and “Let It Ghost,” One Cool Group has also worked on Hollywood projects with Sony Pictures Animation such as “Vivo” and the Oscar-nominated “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

“Through involvement in numerous animation projects, we were hoping to learn and exchange skills, techniques and even vision,” said Man. “As much as Mr. Koo loves animations, our aim is to explore more project genres, entertain and enlighten our audiences in as many ways as we can.”

Koo’s 2022 sci-fi epic “Warriors of Future” notched the title of highest-grossing local film in Hong Kong’s history at the time, and clinched the record for the highest-grossing Asian film ever released in the region, amassing HK$81.7 million ($10.5 million) at the Hong Kong box office.

Yee Kwok-Leung, co-founder of CG company Free-D Workshop, shed light on Koo’s active involvement in various film processes, especially evident in films like “Back to the Past.” “Throughout the project, he has given us the time and resources to work on the pre-production process such as the creative design and pre-visualization,” Yee said. “We know that Mr. Koo is willing to invest in AI and VR technologies too, which is such great news to the industry.”

In 2022, amidst the NFT frenzy, One Cool Group joined forces with Gusto Collective to create non-fungible tokens for “Warriors of Future,” while in 2021, Koo and Media Asia launched Cool Style, a shingle that provides artist management, produces local films and explores social media and e-commerce revenue streams.

Beyond his involvement in media, Koo has diversified his interests into other lucrative ventures, including his acquisition of a high-end Chinese restaurant, Ming House, as well as savvy real estate investments.

Koo’s life hasn’t been without challenges. In his 20s, he spent 22 months in prison for his involvement in a robbery. In his book, he describes his imprisonment as the “darkest period in [my] life” and credits religion for helping him turn things around. Koo keeps his philanthropic efforts low-key, much like his investments.

In 2018, he sponsored the theater at the Hong Kong Arts Center, which was subsequently named after him. Behind the camera, Koo remains dedicated to advancing One Cool Group. “We never stop exploring opportunities in different businesses because we believe that’s how we can grow as a group,” said Man.

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