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    Big Oscar wins for Beijing video game maker
    Big Oscar wins for Beijing video game maker
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    Big Oscar wins for Beijing video game maker

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    by
    Juliana Liu
    Juliana Liu
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    A Chinese video gaming company, Perfect World, is celebrating three Oscar wins for two films it helped to finance.

    Darkest Hour, a movie about former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, won the Academy Awards for best actor and best make-up and hair.

    Kristin Scott Thomas and Gary Oldman star as Clementine and Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour."
    Kristin Scott Thomas and Gary Oldman star as Clementine and Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour." Photo: Jack English/Focus Features

    Romantic drama Phantom Thread won for best costume design.

    'Phantom Thread' stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a mercurial fashion designer in post-war London. The costumes featured in the film were designed by Mark Bridges.
    'Phantom Thread' stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a mercurial fashion designer in post-war London. The costumes featured in the film were designed by Mark Bridges. Photo: Laurie Sparham/Focus Features
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    Another of the films it helped fund, Victoria & Abdul, was nominated for two Oscars, but didn't win.

    Perfect World is best known for its massively multiplayer online role-playing games, which are mainly developed for the domestic Chinese market. 

    But the Beijing-based game maker has a $500 million deal with Universal Pictures to finance 50 movies.

    Perfect World said the agreement, signed in 2016, enabled the company “to spread [its] risks."

    It’s one of many cash-rich Chinese tech companies to jump into the entertainment business.

    Tencent Pictures, iQiyi Motion Pictures and Alibaba Pictures are all film arms of Chinese tech giants investing in domestic and overseas productions. (Alibaba Pictures is owned by the Alibaba Group, which also owns Inkstone.)

    And increasingly, they’re funding Oscar contenders.

    "Chinese companies are scrambling to invest in Hollywood studios as it is the best way for them to tap into the overseas markets,” says Eric Qiu, an analyst at investment company CCB International.

    “It’s a way for them to diversify their portfolios instead of only focusing on domestic film productions.”

    Judi Dench and Ali Fazal star in "Victoria and Abdul."
    Judi Dench and Ali Fazal star in "Victoria and Abdul." Photo: AP

    It’s not all plain sailing, though.

    Last year, the Chinese government cracked down on high-profile overseas deals.

    The most prominent victim was Dalian Wanda Group, owner of American film studio Legendary Entertainment, which it purchased for $3.5 billion in 2016. It also owns cinema chain AMC Theatres.

    But the government has pressured Wanda into selling off some of its overseas acquisitions and concentrating on business in China itself.

    The holy grail of the global movie business is winning an Oscar for best film.

    So far, no Chinese producer or financier has claimed that honor.

    JULIANA LIU
    JULIANA LIU
    Juliana is senior editor at Inkstone. Previously, she was an international correspondent for BBC News in Hong Kong.

    JULIANA LIU
    JULIANA LIU
    Juliana is senior editor at Inkstone. Previously, she was an international correspondent for BBC News in Hong Kong.

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