China's Perfect World backs Oscar Gold

Updated 2018-03-08 10:13:01 Xinhua

Perfect World's world just got a little more perfect.

This past weekend, three movies the Chinese gaming powerhouse co-financed waltzed home with three Oscars - Hollywood's highest honors - after nabbing a staggering total of fourteen Academy Award nominations.

That's a remarkable achievement for a foreign company that only got their foot in Hollywood's door via a studio co-financing deal in 2016.

"Of course, we couldn't be happier to have so many nominations and wins this year, in only our second year of collaboration with Universal/Focus Features."

Perfect World Vice President, Rong Chen, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

Perfect World, a hugely successful Chinese gaming firm founded in 2004, is ranked the third largest gaming company in China and the 21st largest worldwide. It also launched its TV and film business in 2008, and Perfect World Pictures has since became one of the power houses of premium TV productions in China, consistently ranked top five in the country by revenue.

Perfect World Games and Perfect World Pictures merged in 2016 and earned 1.25 billion U.S. dollars in annual revenues in 2017. The company has a market cap of 7 billion U.S. dollars now.

Looking to further grow its feature film business and expand worldwide, Perfect World Pictures snap up a coveted partnership with one of the Big 6 Hollywood Studios: Universal Pictures.

"The China film industry and Hollywood are increasingly interconnected. Hollywood pays a lot of attention to what is happening in China and the China film industry also watches closely what is happening in Hollywood," said Chen.

So, Perfect World entered into a 500 million dollar, 50 picture, 5-year co-financing deal with Universal Pictures Studios and their specialty division, Focus Features.

Little did they know how successful they would be right out of the gate.

One of the first films produced under their partnership with Universal was the "Darkest Hour," starring Gary Oldman as British Wartime leader, Winston Churchill.

It went on to pile up Hollywood's and the international film industries highest accolades, including 6 Oscar nominations, 9 British Academy Award noms, 2 Aussie Academy Awards International noms and one Screen Actor's Guild Award nomination.

Those resulted in 2 Oscar wins - Best Actor for Gary Oldman and Best Make Up Oscar for Kazuhiro Tsuji and crew, 2 BAFTA wins, 1 AACTAI win and one SAG Award win.

Costing only an estimated 30 million U.S. dollars, it grossed 139 million U.S. dollars worldwide, to date.

Another one of the Universal/PW films, "Phantom Thread," Paul Thomas Anderson's poignant ode to couture fashion, starring Daniel Day Lewis giving his farewell performance, has garnered 6 Oscar noms, a Golden Globe Best Actor nom for Daniel Day Lewis, an AACTAI Best Actor nom, and 3 BAFTA noms.

It sewed up an Oscar and a BAFTA win for Best Costumes.

Their third picture, "Victoria & Abdul," was also well received, pulling in 2 Oscar nominations, a Best Actress Golden Globe nom for Judi Dench; ditto from SAG, and a BAFTA nomination for Best Hair and Make Up.

By way of contrast, while Universal/Focus Features hauled in a total of 18 Oscar nominations, MGM and Paramount netted zero and Lionsgate, only two.

When asked how they picked their films, Perfect World told Xinhua that because their in-house analysis had shown investing across a slate of studio projects, which allows them to reap cross-collateralized profits across the board, would result in higher returns than cherry-picking individual projects to invest in, they opted to back Universal's slate.

"(Universal/Focus Features is) a great partner and we look forward to many more successes ahead with them," said VP Chen.

When asked why they partnered with a Hollywood Studio which makes English-language studio movies in the first place, Chen explained: "Over the years, Hollywood has proven itself to be the most far-reaching source of entertainment content in the world... From a business perspective, having access to the largest market is always important; and from a creative perspective, having reach to the most audiences in the world is important."

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