Chinese firm inks $352m deal with Universal

SHANGHAI • A Chinese entertainment firm said on Thursday that it will offer US$250 million (S$352 million) in financing to American studio Universal Pictures, the latest deal to turn the spotlight on the country's Hollywood ambitions.

Beijing-based Perfect World Pictures will invest in Universal's films for the next five years, it said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange, where it is listed.

It will also share global revenue for at least 50 co-financed movies with Universal, which is behind film franchises such as Jurassic Park and The Fast And The Furious.

Perfect World is best known in China for producing television shows; it is also behind popular domestic films such as the 2009 romantic comedy Sophie's Revenge, featuring Zhang Ziyi and Fan Bingbing.

The Chinese company called the deal a step in building a "comprehensive" entertainment group and expanding its film business globally, the statement said.

Stock investors cheered the deal, sending Perfect World's stock up 1.92 per cent on Thursday.

Chinese companies are ramping up investment in the foreign entertainment industry as the country seeks to boost its "soft power".

Foreign studios are keen to expand into China's fast-growing cinema market, now the secondlargest in the world.

Last month, Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group signed a US$3.5-billion deal to buy Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, said to be China's biggest cultural takeover to date.

In September last year, private equity firm China Media Capital unveiled a venture with American entertainment giant Warner Bros to develop films.

State-backed Hunan TV last year announced a US$1.5 billion agreement to fund the movies of American studio Lionsgate.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese firm inks $352m deal with Universal'. Print Edition | Subscribe