China's Perfect World to fund Universal movies in $250 million deal

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese film company Perfect World Pictures Co Ltd 002624.SZ will invest $250 million into a slate of Universal Pictures movies, extending the tie-ups between China and Hollywood, as the world's second largest economy sees its box office soar.

The Chinese firm will help fund at least 50 Universal Pictures films over a five-year period through its Perfect Universe Investment Inc investment unit, the company said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.

Universal Pictures, owned by Comcast Corp CMCSA.O, is the studio behind blockbusters such as "Jurassic World" and "Fast and Furious", the latest installment which is one of China's biggest-ever grossing films.

Perfect World said the investment gives them a “direct link” into one of the biggest Hollywood studios, and would help them expand.

The Chinese firm added it would receive a proportion of global ticket sales, television and merchandising revenues for the films it funded.

China’s box office takings are catching up fast with the United States; ticket sales are set to touch $8.9 billion in 2019 from about $5 billion last year, according to PwC.

However, global studios often have a tough time navigating censors and getting around a strict quota system for imported films.

Hollywood has been pushing hard in China: Warner Brothers announced a joint venture with China Media Capital in September, while Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc DWA.O, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp LGF.N and Walt Disney Co DIS.N have all joined with local partners.

In November, Chinese film distributor Bona Film Group Ltd BONA.O said it would invest $235 million into a slate of Twentieth Century Fox movies and help bring Hollywood productions to the Chinese market.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips