blurb

Latest Movie News Headlines

C'mon Hollywood: Is Hollywood going to start being Made in China?

Apr. 9, 2013by: Paul Shirey

If you look around your surrounding area right now, chances are there are five or more things with a stamp or sticker on them that say Made in China. It’s not uncommon, as China is the largest economic power in the world and continues to grow. I’m not even going to attempt to get into socioeconomic global politics, but there are certain moves being made these days that cause an alarm to go off in my head, which basically come down to the influence of censorship. Why is that an issue? Well, it all comes down to the same ol’ thing: Money, and lots of it.

As a Communist society, China doesn’t have the same freedoms that democratic societies have. Films made in China are heavily scrutinized and must portray the country (i.e. the government) in a positive light, as well as a laundry list of themes, values, and portrayals that are scrutinized by a censorship board of 37 people run by China’s powerful State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or S.A.R.F.T. This group screens every film in the country, be it made in China or somewhere else. They ultimately determine what films can be played in theaters and make the call on what must be changed or cut in order to do so.

Recently, the film 21 AND OVER, a raucous comedy about college-age debauchery from the writers of THE HANGOVER fell plague to Chinese censorship as the production was partially funded by a Chinese government-owned corporation that took issue with the film’s “message.” The result? A major story modification that paints a very different portrait not only of the lead Chinese character, but also of the United States, essentially making a movie about youthful independence become a movie about embracing your roots and turning away from Western ways. You have to wonder if the investors realized they were putting money into a film written by the guys that made THE HANGOVER. What did they think they were gonna get?

Foreign funding isn’t, well, foreign, but the massive influence of censorship as a result of it is. Sure, investors can have an influence on films. Ultimately, all movie studios have influence and exercise it regularly. However, it’s rarely at such an extreme level. Our own censors, the MPAA, can certainly influence a rating, but depending on how big or small the film is (and level of studio involvement), a filmmaker can, in the end, tell them to f*ck off and leave it unrated (or take an undesirable rating). That’s an extreme case, as no filmmaker wants to take a bath on their film, but the fact remains that the integrity of the film can be retained in this environment (and those of other democratic nations) if it comes down to an issue of censorship. Here, ratings are voluntary. In China, they are not.

The influence of Chinese dollars has slowly made its way through the Hollywood system in the last few years with a myriad of alterations as a result, including: Producers of the RED DAWN remake changed the antagonist from China to North Korea at the last minute, TITANIC 3D removed Kate Winslet’s breasts, SKYFALL took out a Chinese security guard’s death and the plot point that Javier Bardem’s villainous character was tortured by the Chinese, CLOUD ATLAS lost 38 minutes of footage, LOOPER shot additional scenes in the country, creating an alternate version (ironically, releasing the film after banning all time travel themes), and many more.

Currently, the production of Marvel’s IRON MAN 3 is in a similar boat as Rian Johnson’s LOOPER. Namely, it is attempting a co-production with Chinese investors, but doing so without script pre-approval. However, Marvel has wooed the censors by outlining the story, the history of Marvel and Disney, and tempting the inclusion of Chinese characters, which has already happened with the addition of Chinese A-lister Wang Xueqi, as well as an appearance of Fan Bingbing (who is also set to star in the new X-MEN film). The producers have revealed that IRON MAN 3 will have an alternate cut for Chinese theaters, including “specially prepared bonus footage.”

Most recently, Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS 4 has jumped on the China bandwagon, announcing a co-production with investors from the Chinese government and will even be partially shot there. So, what does it all mean? Is Chinese influence (aka money) such a bad thing? With their economy at the top of the chain and new screens going up daily, inching just behind Japan as the second-largest international market, does it really matter if they are getting alternate cuts with additional scenes, cut scenes, altered dialogue, or modified stories?

Well, yeah, it kind of does.

The problem is that every time a production crawls into bed with an outside influence, especially one so deeply rooted in censorship, it affects the films we see in a big way. You may think that a film playing differently in another nation doesn’t affect you, but the longer and deeper that Hollywood swims in the pockets of censors, the more they’ll “fine tune” the films they make to suit that audience, thereby no longer making a movie based on an original story, but a movie based on a story that the censors will approve. In China, themes of “murder, violence, horrors, ghosts, demons and supernaturalism” are banned. Do we want to start making only “approved” movies?

The lure of a burgeoning market has Hollywood salivating and it’s not going to stop. One can only hope that there will be enough good sense to shy away from government-sponsored censorship disguised as foreign investors when it comes to sacrificing the integrity of a film. Otherwise, we’re no longer making artful entertainment, but artful propaganda. And while TRANSFORMERS 4 will likely never be considered high art, it certainly won’t win any favor by having Optimus Prime speak Chinese and turn into a Shanghai GM Excelle.

Extra Tidbit: At what point do you consider a film being censored vs. being "influenced"?
Source: JoBlo.com

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

6:49AM on 04/10/2013

China! Leave Transformers alone!

i'm sure everyone else here will agree with me when i say how worried i am about Transformers 4. What effect will Chinese influence have on Michael Bay's latest effort in the series? Will the fourth surpass the third and be the worst yet, or will it only be as terrible as the first one? Only time will tell.
i'm sure everyone else here will agree with me when i say how worried i am about Transformers 4. What effect will Chinese influence have on Michael Bay's latest effort in the series? Will the fourth surpass the third and be the worst yet, or will it only be as terrible as the first one? Only time will tell.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:44PM on 04/09/2013
As Harry Waters in "In Bruges" says, "That's globalization for you."

I heard film critic Ty Burr interviewed on "Fresh Air" a few weeks back, and he was talking about when he realized Die Hard 5 wasn't made for American audiences, but dumbed down for the international audiences.

As is, this trend is only going to get worse. If Hollywood can successfully balance the domestic and international demands while still turning out a good product, then I say let them. But if attempts at appeasing
As Harry Waters in "In Bruges" says, "That's globalization for you."

I heard film critic Ty Burr interviewed on "Fresh Air" a few weeks back, and he was talking about when he realized Die Hard 5 wasn't made for American audiences, but dumbed down for the international audiences.

As is, this trend is only going to get worse. If Hollywood can successfully balance the domestic and international demands while still turning out a good product, then I say let them. But if attempts at appeasing the foreign market impedes the quality, then fuck 'em. They don't need out dollars anyway. Seriously, this is the world we live in.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
6:58PM on 04/09/2013

It's a disater.

America is being sold.
America is being sold.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
4:12PM on 04/09/2013

Seriously, What Else is New?

Many probably said (and STILL say) things like this about major Hollywood studios. How many times have you complained about the 'suits' ruining what might have been a great film? This is the way of the world, it all comes down to the money. Those with it tell the rest of us what they want, and since it's their ball, we either play the way they want or we go home. Sad story, but true.
Many probably said (and STILL say) things like this about major Hollywood studios. How many times have you complained about the 'suits' ruining what might have been a great film? This is the way of the world, it all comes down to the money. Those with it tell the rest of us what they want, and since it's their ball, we either play the way they want or we go home. Sad story, but true.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
2:32PM on 04/09/2013
That's capitalism for you.
That's capitalism for you.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
2:02PM on 04/09/2013
Excellent article. This has been worrying me for some time. For years if the Chinese banned an American movie, the US production company just let them do it and took the loss. That won't happen anymore. Now they have to cater to the Chinese. Money > Freedom of Speech. The Chinese also love 3D, which is why it's still being force fed to American audiences, even though when the option existed more Americans opted for the 2D showings. Now you're lucky if there's a 2D showing at all in your town.
Excellent article. This has been worrying me for some time. For years if the Chinese banned an American movie, the US production company just let them do it and took the loss. That won't happen anymore. Now they have to cater to the Chinese. Money > Freedom of Speech. The Chinese also love 3D, which is why it's still being force fed to American audiences, even though when the option existed more Americans opted for the 2D showings. Now you're lucky if there's a 2D showing at all in your town. For example, Iron Man 3 tickets went on sale yesterday. I'm going to have to drive 92 miles to see it in 2D and my only option is a 1:30 afternoon showing. That on top of all the Chinese manipulation that's happened to that film have made me not even want to see it anymore. I'm afraid cinema is dying a rather quick death and I don't know what can save it.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:16PM on 04/09/2013

PREPARE FOR COMMUNIST DOMINATION

Take a look around. The American dollar is becoming extinct in the world market, not just movies. Our government is slowly stripping away our freedoms. Our country's financial system is at the mercy of the most rich and powerful, PRIVATE, influences of the world, The Central Banks, namely The Federal Reserve Bank, in the USA. These banksters want control of every country's societies so we can be forever enslaved with financial debt to them. A communist society is more controllable than a
Take a look around. The American dollar is becoming extinct in the world market, not just movies. Our government is slowly stripping away our freedoms. Our country's financial system is at the mercy of the most rich and powerful, PRIVATE, influences of the world, The Central Banks, namely The Federal Reserve Bank, in the USA. These banksters want control of every country's societies so we can be forever enslaved with financial debt to them. A communist society is more controllable than a "so called" democracy. We are and always will be slaves to whoever holds the most "gold". Movies are just a small market that's just now starting to be "controlled". Just another example of the coming financial ruin of the U.S.A. to be rebuilt into a more communist society. To be truly free we must put these banksters in jail and throw away the key and end our two party corrupted government system. Here's some good reads for the literate movie fans out there: Critical Path, Grunch of Giants, The Creature From Jekyll Island. Sorry for the political rant. This shit just boils my blood.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:34PM on 04/09/2013
Well, China should change its culture to benefit their own people, movies are not really important in the grand scheme of things, but that's another discussion.
As for this one, it was only a matter of time. Instead of a producer or director or actor taking a pay cut to make a movie within the costs they need, they won't. It's not charity, it's a business. The "art" of movies is a business, spewing out as much crap as possible with a hint of the occasional well made film, usually by people
Well, China should change its culture to benefit their own people, movies are not really important in the grand scheme of things, but that's another discussion.
As for this one, it was only a matter of time. Instead of a producer or director or actor taking a pay cut to make a movie within the costs they need, they won't. It's not charity, it's a business. The "art" of movies is a business, spewing out as much crap as possible with a hint of the occasional well made film, usually by people with lower budgets and some self respect. We keep hearing about costs at theatres going up, all this 3D tech is super awesome and justifies the increase in tickets etc, but it's all BULLSHIT. It was nice to re-watch Jurassic Park on the big screen again, but the extra price for 3D is STILL a waste. GI Joe's delay to post convert to 3D and appease Asian markets, didn't make the film any better. Just upped the theatre price for an even worse entry than the first (in my opinion).
I get that these movies want to rake in as much cash as they can, get a broader and broader audience, but at what cost? Isn't a Billion dollars worldwide enough? I already get annoyed when what should be an R rated movies get PG-13ified, or when some corporations like Fox force directors to make stupid changes and so forth. How many movies do you think would have been amazing if the idiots in charge and investing the cash had just trusted the people actually MAKING the movie? You should make YOUR movie YOUR way. Need funds? Take and make pay cuts. Having other countries dictate your movie so you can get more financing isn't making things better. You're opening a whole new can of issues here.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:47AM on 04/09/2013
Well, this is an oversimplification, but the borrower will be slave to the lender and all that.
Well, this is an oversimplification, but the borrower will be slave to the lender and all that.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:44AM on 04/09/2013

This is stupid.

If you don't like movies being gutted and regionalized based on where their funding comes fun, tough. The American moviegoing public isn't the only moviegoing public. Transformers isn't a movie, it's a corporation. I don't think there's going to be too much pollution to Bay's GRAND ARTISTIC VISION of the fourth Transformers movie.
If you don't like movies being gutted and regionalized based on where their funding comes fun, tough. The American moviegoing public isn't the only moviegoing public. Transformers isn't a movie, it's a corporation. I don't think there's going to be too much pollution to Bay's GRAND ARTISTIC VISION of the fourth Transformers movie.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+27
11:44AM on 04/09/2013
Marge: Lisa you got a letter
Lisa; It's from my pen pal Anya! (Begins to read a young girls voice comes in)
Anya: "Lisa, as I write this, I am very sad. Our president has been overthrown and (a mans voice comes in) REPLACED BY THE BENEVOLENT GENERAL KRULL. ALL HAIL KRULL AND HIS GLORIOUS NEW REGIME. SINCERLY LITTLE GIRL."
Marge: Lisa you got a letter
Lisa; It's from my pen pal Anya! (Begins to read a young girls voice comes in)
Anya: "Lisa, as I write this, I am very sad. Our president has been overthrown and (a mans voice comes in) REPLACED BY THE BENEVOLENT GENERAL KRULL. ALL HAIL KRULL AND HIS GLORIOUS NEW REGIME. SINCERLY LITTLE GIRL."
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:39AM on 04/09/2013
The main problem and you touched on it, is that eventually Hollywood will be in China's pocket, why make two versions of a movie, that's too expensive. We will just make one version of our Giant Robot movie where the good robots destroy the evil capitalist pigs in the United States. Many may think this is just a few examples no big deal but remember this is Hollywood and Money, they will go were it is and do anything to get more. I expect some new Chinese aliens in the next Avatard movies, just
The main problem and you touched on it, is that eventually Hollywood will be in China's pocket, why make two versions of a movie, that's too expensive. We will just make one version of our Giant Robot movie where the good robots destroy the evil capitalist pigs in the United States. Many may think this is just a few examples no big deal but remember this is Hollywood and Money, they will go were it is and do anything to get more. I expect some new Chinese aliens in the next Avatard movies, just watch.
Any filmmaker with integrity would not allow their movie to be twisted in this way, guess that shows us how few good filmmakers we have left.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
2:00PM on 04/09/2013
So when Michael Bay turns to the US military to make a 200 million dollar recruitment video it's OK, but when he goes to China to take some money it's bad. Newsflash, the whole world doesn't live in the USA and some people are allergic to seeing waving American flags.
So when Michael Bay turns to the US military to make a 200 million dollar recruitment video it's OK, but when he goes to China to take some money it's bad. Newsflash, the whole world doesn't live in the USA and some people are allergic to seeing waving American flags.
11:26AM on 04/09/2013
It sucks, but lets remind ourselves that US studios have chopped up and altered Asian cinema for decades, almost always to its detriment, and more often than you'd think for blatantly political purposes. Besides all the cheesy dubbing and US-produced soundtracks...they've shot new scenes to work Americans into the story, cut out scenes that portray Americans as anything less than heroic, entirely re-edited movies to 'dumb it down' for us, and in the case of some movies, flat-out refused to
It sucks, but lets remind ourselves that US studios have chopped up and altered Asian cinema for decades, almost always to its detriment, and more often than you'd think for blatantly political purposes. Besides all the cheesy dubbing and US-produced soundtracks...they've shot new scenes to work Americans into the story, cut out scenes that portray Americans as anything less than heroic, entirely re-edited movies to 'dumb it down' for us, and in the case of some movies, flat-out refused to distribute them. For a whole decade you couldn't even watch the 90s-era Godzilla movies here in the states because one of them portrayed US troops in WWII as antagonists. So Americans didn't get to see the Big G's epic final battle against Destoroyah until the year 2000.

And perhaps the worst thing we do is make shitty, mainstream, PG-13 remakes of awesome Asian movies. I shudder to think what'll happen when they try to turn 'Audition' into a vehicle for Selena Gomez.

On principle I despise it all, and I certainly hate it more when a government steps in to censor a piece of art. But lets not kid ourselves that US studios are angels when it comes to not tailoring foreign cinema to its own liking.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:22AM on 04/09/2013
To get more investment isn't a bad thing. However, the bad thing is to prepare a "special version" of the film for that particular market or to do anything to please such market. That's bad. That's selling out.
To get more investment isn't a bad thing. However, the bad thing is to prepare a "special version" of the film for that particular market or to do anything to please such market. That's bad. That's selling out.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:18AM on 04/09/2013
I like this article a lot. You differentiate between the MPAA and Chinese censors. I had wondered how one does so. You suggest that future Hollywood projects might edit movies already at the screenplay stage. No one might get an alternate cut. North American audiences will have to watch the same "morally-approved" version as China. Currently, American film-makers alter their films in the editing room so that Western and Eastern audiences each get a film that they like. You pose a great question
I like this article a lot. You differentiate between the MPAA and Chinese censors. I had wondered how one does so. You suggest that future Hollywood projects might edit movies already at the screenplay stage. No one might get an alternate cut. North American audiences will have to watch the same "morally-approved" version as China. Currently, American film-makers alter their films in the editing room so that Western and Eastern audiences each get a film that they like. You pose a great question in the ET. When can a person say that two great cultures influence each other in a healthy multicultural way? And, when does a person use the pejorative word "censorship"? I would say that "censorship" occurs under three circumstances. One, when editing suppresses freedom of expression. Two, when suppression is not necessary for decency and decorum (i.e. not every expression can be allowed under every circumstance; even U.S. law agrees). Three, when editing to done to promote a political agenda. HOWEVER, most movies will have some political agenda. They will have some moral of the story. They will chose to be PC or religious allegory or pro-gun or patriarchal or feminist or whatever.
Paul, you handled your subject matter very well in this week's column.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:13AM on 04/09/2013
The sad thing is that this is only a part of the growing lack of quality in movies nowadays. You increasingly have to turn to cable television (AMC, HBO, etc) to find good cinema, now. This article makes me sad.
The sad thing is that this is only a part of the growing lack of quality in movies nowadays. You increasingly have to turn to cable television (AMC, HBO, etc) to find good cinema, now. This article makes me sad.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
11:07AM on 04/09/2013
Interesting point. But since movie stars need to take home a salary of $10M + for starring in a movie, plus the production value of movies these days, factor in the state of the American economy and it becomes clear why these [link] are going to Chinese investors to get their movies made. It's not China's fault for altering movies, it's American Production company's fault for going to China. The Chinese have their culture and perspective, whether you agree or disagree they are entitled to
Interesting point. But since movie stars need to take home a salary of $10M + for starring in a movie, plus the production value of movies these days, factor in the state of the American economy and it becomes clear why these [link] are going to Chinese investors to get their movies made. It's not China's fault for altering movies, it's American Production company's fault for going to China. The Chinese have their culture and perspective, whether you agree or disagree they are entitled to it. Why do they need to change that because some schmucks in USA and Canada need to see a movie a certain way? If it's such a problem, tell America to stop going to China for a handout. Don't tell China they need to change their culture.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
View All Comments

Latest Movie News Headlines


Top
Loading...
JoBlo's T-Shirt Shoppe | support our site... Wear Our Gear!