Keeping an eye on Communist, Totalitarian China, and its influence both globally, and we as Canadians. I have come to the opinion that we are rarely privy to truth regarding the real goal, the agenda of Red China, and it's implications for Canada [and North America as a whole]. No more can we rely on our media as more and more information on China is actively being swept under the carpet - not for consumption.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Is American film industry pandering to Chinese censors?
Is American film industry pandering to Chinese censors?
By banning its best films, China foregrounds their political import — and increases their chances of becoming a cause célèbre overseas.
Chinese director Zhang Yimou is one of Chinese cinema's top names. Some fear that China parades its garbage and hides its gold, preventing many of the country's greatest films from being seen outside its borders.
By:David VolodzkoGlobalPost,Published on Sat Dec 26 2015
Starring Matt Damon, Andy Lau and Willem Dafoe, The Great Wall will be Zhang’s first English-language film and, with a budget of $150 million (U.S.), the largest Hollywood-China collaboration in history. It’s the most expensive Chinese movie ever made for an international audience.
But Hollywood’s recent collaborations with China have raised concerns that the American film industry is pandering to Chinese audiences — or more disturbingly, Chinese censors.
“It’s only natural for American moviemakers to try to please the cultural gatekeepers of the Chinese government,” commented The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert on the success of space thriller The Martian with Chinese viewers (China’s space program plays a crucial role in the film).
“They’ve been doing it for years,” he continued. “In the disaster movie 2012, humanity is saved because the Chinese government had the foresight to build life-saving arks, and in Gravity, Sandra Bullock survives by getting herself to the Chinese space station.”
A sequence in the film Looper, originally set in Paris, was changed to Shanghai. InTransformers: Age of Extinction, dastardly Americans create the danger that the upstanding Chinese government must protect its people from. And, just last month, Disney set up 500 life-sized Imperial Stormtrooper figures on a section of the Great Wall in a publicity stunt for the new Star Wars movie, whose release in China the company is still seeking to secure.
The reason why — money.
In 2014, the U.S. and Canadian box office made $10.4 billion compared to $4.8 billion in China — but that’s a 5-per-cent decrease from the year before. Meanwhile, Chinese revenues jumped 34 per cent. In the first half of 2015, takings are estimated to have risen nearly 50 per cent year on year. In February, the Chinese box office beat the American box office for the first time to become the biggest movie market in the world that month.
Much of the growth is driven by American blockbusters. China is fast becoming Hollywood’s best customer, constituting 26 per cent of the total gross for Furious 7 and 29 per cent for Transformers: Age of Extinction. Both movies made more in China than they did in the United States.
But there’s homegrown competition for the rapidly increasing fortune to be made from China’s moviegoers. This year, the Chinese fantasy Monster Hunt became the highest-grossing film in the country’s history. Unsurprisingly, not everyone wants to watch foreign films all the time — particularly when the subtitles are hilariously awful.
But it’s not necessarily audiences that Hollywood needs to impress.
The director of China’s state-controlled film bureau, Zhang Hongshen, has said thatChina is at war with Hollywood. China’s propaganda chief, Liu Qibao, believes that Chinese movies should reflect the Chinese Dream. President Xi Jinping declared that art should be patriotic and that foreign films should be sanitized.
This summer, when Chinese war epic The Hundred Regiments Offensive was competing with Terminator: Genisys, industry executives allege that the state studio encouraged cinemas to commit fraud, falsely propelling its film to the top of box-office charts. (The Chinese government attributed the movie’s success to patriotic fervour.)
Others have accused China of forcing state-owned companies to buy tickets to produce similar results.
Part of the problem is that the country parades its garbage and hides its gold. Not including productions from Hong Kong and Taiwan, its mainland film industry has received two Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Language film: Ju Dou in 1990 and 2002’s Hero, both directed by Zhang Yimou. Not only was Ju Dou banned for two years in China, Zhang himself was later temporarily barred from filmmaking.
Similarly, Jia Zhangke’s hard-hitting A Touch of Sin, maybe the best Chinese film of 2013, was denied a release in China (and therefore a shot at an Oscar nomination).
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the U.K., recently complained that artist Ai Weiwei is only popular in the West because he criticizes the Chinese government. By banning its best films, China foregrounds their political import — and increases their chances of becoming a cause célèbre overseas. You could even argue that Chinese censors incentivize their best filmmakers to cater to Western tastes by criticizing the Chinese government.
China’s growth almost guarantees Hollywood studios will continue to bow to Beijing’s censors, while censorship encourages China’s best to reach for Western audiences. Caught in such financial and political currents, directors like Zhang Yimou will continue to make movies that they hope at least one of the world’s two biggest audiences will watch.