Hollywood’s China Make-Over

• June 13, 2012 9:33 am


Hollywood film executives are kowtowing to the Chinese Communist government by producing movies that feature pro-regime propaganda in return for access to the lucrative foreign market, the L.A. Times reports.

The recent action film Battleship, for instance, intentionally featured "Chinese do-gooders," while another major Hollywood film inserted crafty "Chinese hydroelectric engineers" into the picture, the paper reports.

The Times reports:

References to the Middle Kingdom are popping up with remarkable frequency in movies these days. Some are conspicuously flattering or gratuitous additions designed to satisfy Chinese business partners and court audiences in the largest moviegoing market outside the U.S. Others, filmmakers say, are simply organic reflections of the fact that China is a rising political, economic and cultural power.

Meanwhile, Chinese bad guys are vanishing — literally. Western studios are increasingly inclined to excise potentially negative references to China in the hope that the films can pass muster with Chinese censors and land one of several dozen coveted annual revenue-sharing import quota slots in Chinese cinemas.

The Times also catalogues some of the altered films:

MGM, the studio behind the remake of the 1984 movie "Red Dawn," last year digitally altered the invaders attacking the U.S. to make them North Koreans instead of Chinese, as originally shot.

When Sony's "Men in Black 3" was released in China last month, censors had the studio remove or shorten several scenes set in New York's Chinatown that they believed depicted Chinese Americans unflatteringly. (One portrayed Chinatown restaurant workers as alien monsters, and another showed bystanders of Chinese heritage having memories erased by a U.S. government agent / alien fighter played by Will Smith.)

Sony executives refused to comment publicly, and the scenes remained in versions of the film shown outside China. But privately, studio officials suggested they might have considered changing the locale from Chinatown to another New York ethnic enclave — thus altering the movie for audiences worldwide — had they been aware of the Chinese sensitivities before production.

Published under: Censorship, China, Hollywood