China's iQiyi Acquires Streaming Rights to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land'

Moonlight Still 5 - Photofest - H 2017
Courtesy of Photofest

The Netflix-like Chinese service also acquired best foreign-language film award winner 'The Salesman.'

Chinese film buffs will soon get a chance to watch Barry Jenkins' best picture Oscar winner Moonlight.

Beijing-based streaming video service iQiyi said Tuesday that it has acquired exclusive online rights to the film for the Chinese market. The company also picked up La La Land and best foreign-language film award winner The Salesman.

iQiyi said in a statement that the acquisitions were made to "strengthen its edge" as the video platform with the "largest online library of licensed films in China."

An independently operated subsidiary of Baidu, China's largest search engine, iQiyi has consistently been one of China's largest buyers of Hollywood and international content. Last year it signed exclusive licensing deals with 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate and the British Film Institute.

In January, iQiyi revealed that it had raised $1.53 billion in new funds to compete with rivals and fuel investments in original content. Strict protectionism by Beijing regulators has prevented Netflix and Amazon from entering the massive Chinese market, but iQiyi is engaged in a fierce battle for market share with deep-pocketed local rivals Youku Tudou, owned by Jack Ma's Alibaba, and the video services of internet giant Tencent.

All three companies are in the process of converting to a paid subscription model akin to Netflix, with each spending heavily to acquire exclusive content and produce originals.

On Tuesday, iQiyi also announced that The Summer Is Gone, an art-house favorite acquired by the company last year, had been selected to screen at New York's New Directors/New Films Festival on March 15. Directed by first-time filmmaker Zhang Dalei, the black-and-white period drama won the best picture prize at the Taipei Golden Horse Awards in December, along with the best new performer prize for its 10-year-old star, Kong Weiyi

The Summer Is Gone will get a theatrical release in China on March 24.