… in an effort to placate [Chinese] cultural sensitivities, filmmakers have been willing to make all manner of changes to their workwrites Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post,
whether it means removing scenes of laundry air-drying on a Shanghai street from “Mission: Impossible III” (too poor-looking) or excising a stunt when James Bond kills a Chinese security guard in “Skyfall” (too offensive).Not to mention Kung Fu Panda 2. This echoes the No Pasarán post Hollywood's Offerings Promise Only to Get More Anti-American.
Ann Hornaday 's Washington Post article:
For the past several years, Hollywood and China have been engaged in a wary dance that could be both lucrative or disastrous, depending on what’s at stake. As the Chinese investment sector and middle class have grown, the American film industry has eagerly courted both — as a source of financing, and as a movie-hungry market. With an average growth in box office of 35 percent a year since 2011 — compared with a relatively flat performance in the United States — China has become the new holy grail in putting rear ends in seats.
And there are plenty of seats to be had: China is now building around 26 screens a day to accommodate burgeoning demand in that country, whose population hovers around 1.3 billion. Although the state much prefers indigenous movies — allowing for tighter control of stories, images and social messages — the biggest demand is for mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. After years of severely limiting access to American product, in 2012 China signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States — which had objected to unfair trade practices — agreeing to allow at least 34 non-Chinese movies into the country every year, and allowing their home studios to keep 25 percent of the box office receipts.
The Chinese film industry, owned and controlled by the state, has also bolstered its domestic means of production, with an eye toward making the kinds of slick spectacles it can export to the rest of the world. U.S.-China co-productions are increasingly the order of the day, proving advantageous to Hollywood because they aren’t subject to the 34-movie quota, and to China, which is eager to up its game vis-a-vis production values, prestige and “soft power” relevance.
So far, the relationship has produced some hits and a few notable misses, especially when it comes to the American creative class navigating Chinese state censors who oversee which movies get into the country. No one who wants a piece of the world’s largest market would be stupid enough to alienate their audience by making the villain Chinese; but while few mourn the passing of “yellow peril” stereotypes or equally offensive ethnic cliches, attempts to cater to the Chinese market can veer toward pandering. Movies from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” to “Gravity” to “Iron Man 3” have tweaked content and casting to appeal to Chinese audiences. The science fiction film “Looper” changed an entire plot line to take place in Shanghai when filmmaker Rian Johnson received Chinese funding.Related: Chinese Film Studios Are the Planet's Largest, Mass-Producing
In the case of “Looper,” the Chinese locations and characters wound up looking unforced and organic, even forward-looking. But, in an effort to placate cultural sensitivities, filmmakers have been willing to make all manner of changes to their work, whether it means removing scenes of laundry air-drying on a Shanghai street from “Mission: Impossible III” (too poor-looking) or excising a stunt when James Bond kills a Chinese security guard in “Skyfall” (too offensive). Even more sobering is the fact that films dealing with such subjects as homosexuality, a free press and democratic dissent — think “Brokeback Mountain,” “Spotlight” and “Selma” — never make it past square one with Chinese censors.
As China’s most high-profile domestic production, made in tandem with an American company (Legendary Pictures) and a huge American movie star (Matt Damon), “The Great Wall” has an enormous amount riding on it, financially and symbolically, in terms of China’s global reputation as a cultural player. Two 2016 co-productions offer stark illustrations of what’s at stake: While “Kung Fu Panda 3” was a huge hit, “Warcraft” — which underwent tinkering to make it China-friendly — was a bomb.
… American filmmakers must maintain a delicate balance between artistic freedom and the Chinese investment and box office revenue they need to survive. Add the backdrop of Trumpian uncertainty, and you have a reminder of why “may you live in interesting times” isn’t considered a blessing, but a curse.
Films Designed to Build a Positive Image of the Country
• Further Inroads into Hollywood for China's Communist Party and Its Censors