Report: Studios Deny Scripts That Might Offend China
By Movieguide® Contributor
China, known as “the world’s biggest box office,” has been exercising influence of global movies in order to control the content its citizens ingest. Anything that paints Chinese history or current policy in a bad light are either deleted or the movie is banned altogether.
The Daily Wire reports that beyond overt censorship, China’s influence begins even before a movie production is initially conceived. Long before projects are reviewed in their final forms, the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party) influence dominates the early stages.
Today, any script that contains references that might displease the CCP is a non-starter. As a result, screenwriters don’t even attempt to tell stories about Tibet anymore. They likewise won’t waste their time on a script that references the independence of Taiwan or Hong Kong or genocide against the Uyghurs. Entertainment executives know that if they were to greenlight, say, an indie film on these subjects with no planned release beyond the U.S., the CCP would penalize any international blockbusters coming from the same studio.
USC professor and China expert Stanley Rosen said in an article on Movieguide®:
“Years ago, it was said, ‘If you’re a production company or a studio, in terms of what China thinks of you, you’re only as good as your worst film. You do one film that China doesn’t like, and none of your films are shown in China.’” Rosen said.
Chinese regulators have also been successfully influencing American moviemaking in seemingly subtle ways. As reported by The Daily Wire, regulators were invited to the set of IRON MAN 3, with the hopes the movie would be an inroad to Chinese theaters and profits. However, audiences in China ended up seeing a different version than Americans.
As a result of the regulators input, audiences saw Chris Evans’ Captain America carrying a Chinese-made Vivo phone as opposed to an American- made product. Marvel also ended up adding three additional scenes to the Chinese version of the release that would specifically appeal to the Chinese government by putting the nation in a positive light.
The same focus on “positive Chinese images” was on stark display in 2014’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” a movie so pro-China, it prompted Variety to call it “a splendidly patriotic film, if you happen to be Chinese.”
UNCHARTED, which Movieguide® reports “contains strong Christian themes, which may raise flags for the CCP,” has a release date of March 14, but Chinese theaters may not hold the key to box office success any more.
SPIDERMAN: NO WAY HOME might be the exception moviemakers have been hoping for. Despite not having an official release date in China, the third installment of the series with Tom Holland in the lead role has topped $1.8 billion in global revenue so far.
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