China's iQiyi, British Film Institute Strike Content Deal

iQiyi CEO Gong Yu - P 2015
Courtesy of iQiyi

The BFI has handpicked a selection of British independent and world cinema titles, including '12 Years a Slave' and 'Amour,' to be made available by the online video company.

Chinese audiences will soon get to stream such Oscar winners as 12 Years a Slave and Amour.

Following a deal between the British Film Institute and Chinese Internet giant Baidu's iQiyi online video service, a selection of "handpicked" titles from world cinema and the U.K.'s indie film scene will be available via the platform, which has more than 10 million paid subscribers across China.

Also among the initial "BFI Collection" of 20 films are Philomena, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Wadjda and Nowhere Boy. All the titles selected so far have premiered at the BFI London Film Festival, chosen by festival director Clare Stewart and deputy director Tricia Tuttle, and more are due to be added as the collection grows.

"BFI London Film Festival has a huge selection of movies with great variety, including full-length features, short features and documentaries," said iQiyi senior vp Yang Xianghua. "We are looking forward to further enhancing our cooperation with BFI in the future."

BFI digital director Edward Humphrey said the deal with iQiyi was "just the beginning" for the organization, which has identified China as a key international territory and already led a number of film industry trade delegations in both countries.

"The BFI is uniquely placed to deliver such collections, and we’re looking forward to working with more partners in more territories to bring outstanding British cinema to audiences around the world," he said.

The partnership follows a slew of arrangements between iQiyi and major studios over the past year, with output deals signed with 20th Century Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount and Lionsgate, plus an extension of an agreement with Sony Pictures Television to bring even more of the company’s feature films to its users.

Highlighting a growing demand for more art house and independent offerings, Hong Kong-listed banner Huaxi Media Group invested $50 million in "curated" SVOD platform Mubi in January with a view to launching the service across China later in the year.