For centuries Hollywood has produced films that have been edited in other countries. Some countries have cut portions due to recent events in their country; others believe that a particular sequence portrays violence or prejudice in one way or another. Recently the influence of chinese communism on Hollywood productions has raised a few eyebrows, and some must be wondering why Hollywood hasn’t come together to set standards for censorship at all levels.
It seems that the main thing is the money. For the past decade, Chinese theater enthusiasts have backed the box office numbers just behind the US numbers. In fact, the United States has around 41,000 screens compared to the 75,500 screens available in China today, and China is quickly catching up to profits.
More money means more Chinese audience while film producers make decisions on what to keep or what to cut. However, some argue that Chinese Communism is starting to affect American moviegoers more than they realize.
How it all began
Decades ago, the Chinese government completely banned American films during its Cultural Revolution. In the late 1980s, the country began to allow certain films to be shown in their theaters, and American companies did not bat an eyelid. This self-regulation has taken place all over the world.
In the early 2000s, China began to invest seriously in Hollywood films, allowing a total of 34 international films to play in Chinese theaters. They determined the release dates, the amount of publicity a movie would receive, and the number of theaters where the movie would be available.
The creation of this system of supply and demand only encouraged Hollywood filmmakers to produce a film that would surpass Chinese censorship, play in their theaters, and generate a big profit. However, this new decision-making comes at costs.
The new system affects everyone
You might think that increasing the number of Chinese box offices might be a way to spread Western ideals and American pride, but it isn’t.
For example, casting famous Chinese actors is a plus, shooting on location in China is another plus and inviting a Chinese “regulator” to visit the American sets and offer suggestions is another plus to gain the advantage and get your film through the loopholes of the Chinese government .
American filmmakers have started to predict what the Chinese need, paying attention to these forbidden topics to increase their chances of winning at the box office. According to Atlantic, movies featuring Chinese characters as antagonists are a big no-no. The country does not want areas like Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang to be featured in a movie, and Hollywood continues to censor their choices based on the demands of Chinese culture.
In the recent movie Doctor strange, there was a Tibetan character, and the studio chose to switch to a Celtic character in order to please the Chinese sensors.
Careers are delayed and even shut down due to a display of anti-Chinese manners. Take Chloe Zhao, for example. The director of Nomadic country was the first Woman of Color to win the Academy Award for Best Director, and her upcoming Marvel film, Eternals, will soon arrive in theaters.
Born in Beijing and linked to Chinese royalty, she was well positioned to become a cross artist, bringing Chinese values and beliefs to American cinema. China even called it “the pride of China” in a Communist newspaper.
When an eight-year interview surfaced in which Zhao called China a place “where there are lies everywhere,” his reign as China’s favorite came to an abrupt end. The liberation of Nomadic country has been canceled, all sources of praise and pride for the Chinese star have been erased, and Eternals is less likely to be seen on the big screen in China.
Celebrity Richard Gere was once one of Hollywood’s most important stars, but hasn’t been seen for 20 years. According to Patrimony, it’s because Gere made the mistake of hanging out with the Dalai Lama, the religious leader of Tibet. Gere not only promoted the cause of the Dalai Lama but also the independence of Tibet.
This choice means that no film starring Gere will be screened in China and, therefore, costs Hollywood a fortune if it stands behind him.
What is the answer
In a business or a corporation, the product is geared towards where the money is. While many don’t expect American filmmakers to ban Chinese censorship, there appears to be a call for transparency on the American side.
Not so long ago, Gere appeared before the US Senate to warn of the dangers of letting China control content. “The combination of Chinese censorship, coupled with the desire of American film studios to access the Chinese market, can lead to self-censorship and the oblivion of the social issues that great American films once dealt with.” he said.
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