How China is reshaping Hollywood

by on July 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm in Economics, Film | Permalink

The German director’s [Roland Emmerich] “2012″ movie was a hit in China with a plot that was gold for patriotic Chinese audiences: As the Earth’s core overheats, world leaders build an ark in the mountains of central China to house people and animals that can repopulate the planet. Scenes from the nearly three-hour movie feature a U.S. military officer saying that only the Chinese could build an ark of such a scale so quickly.

It was seen in China as a refreshing change for audiences after decades of unflattering portrayals of the communist nation in Hollywood movies.

Emmerich said he didn’t make “2012″ specifically to appeal to Chinese.

There is more here.  You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene, except when the female lead sneakingly admires the torso of the male lead.

Franklin Harris July 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm

You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene, except when the female lead sneakingly admires the torso of the male lead.

Respect and loyalty to family are major attributes of most all Asian societies, including Japan, originator of the robot vs. monster genre that Pacific Rim is part of and to which it pays homage. It is pretty much the Platonic ideal of robot vs. kaiju.

Also, not many nude scenes in general in summer action flicks these days.

F. Lynx Pardinus July 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Yeah, when I read that, I thought: family, respect, loyalty, explosions, no nudity? Sounds like a classic American summer action flick–Independence Day, Armageddon, et al.

mulp July 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Add, stupidly simple plot, impossible action and explosions, and very few women, and dumb simple dialog (that might reference cult touchstones to entertain the people who go only to go out), and action and impossible explosions, and no women in any important role, and action and explosions.

80% of movie revenue comes outside the US so even megaflops get sequels because the megaflop made a lot of money outside the US so sequels will make even more money because the marketing outside the US is so much easier.

Language and culture mean dialog and ideas in a movie limit it to one nation. Yeah, there is a cult following for French and Swedish movies in the US, and cult followings for “serious” American films outside the US, but no money.

The blockbuster movies creators both predict that going to a movie will cost $50, that is Lucas and Spielberg, and that will be either to pay for the theater to deliver the special effects over the top.

Or speculating, $50 to make it profitable to show the million dollar to make movie with lots of dialog and women in major roles that is seen by a million people in US theaters over a two month theater run.

Maybe the only way anything but dumb action movies can get in theaters is by touring Sundance, Canne, like film festivals. Like book authors who tour the country giving interviews and book readings, instead of actors and directors hitting so entertainment shows, they appear around the country to showings with signings or panels afterward. $50 to see the movie and see the panel, $250 to have wine and cheese in the same room as the film actors and directors.

dan1111 July 21, 2013 at 4:49 am

I don’t disagree with your complaints about modern action movies. However, for the entire history of American cinema, most movies made have been dumb. But the old dumb movies are long forgotten, and only the good ones are remembered, leading to a mistaken belief in the industry’s decline. More good movies are being made now than ever before, and it is easier to see the good movies that are being made.

Aiming blockbusters at a foreign audience is only one trend among many. Digital cameras and the internet are causing the price of and barriers of entry to professional movie making to drop dramatically, which will only increase the number and quality of high-concept movies made.

Ryan July 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm

You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene, except when the female lead sneakingly admires the torso of the male lead.

Hollywood may tone down its kulturkampf in order to play better to certain audiences, or to even have access to them in the first place, as is the case with China, but its kulturkampf is undeniable.

AC July 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Don’t hold your breath waiting for male Asian leads, either.

Andrew' July 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I’m of two minds on Pacific Rim.

(Not That) Bill O'Reilly July 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Subtle.

Alexei Sadeski July 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

The lack of love scenes and nudity is a wonderful development. More Chinese influence, please.

jseliger July 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene

This seems like another way of saying, “Most people who want interesting stories told via moving pictures should pay more attention to good TV and less to movies.”

mike July 19, 2013 at 4:10 pm

“Interesting” meaning basically softcore porn? Shit, you can barely even call it softcore any more with some of these shows.

JWatts July 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Hollywood has become prone to pandering to the Chinese, (the Red Dawn remake, Skyfall, World War Z, etc).

That being said, 2012 (which was a pretty awful film anyway, didn’t really strike me as pandering. Granted, you would expect the Arcs to be built all over the place. However, if they were going to be built in one particular country, it would logically be either the US or China. And since the plot required a long voyage, it made sense to have the characters travel from the US around the world to China.

JWatts July 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Director Roland Emmerich says although Hollywood may be benefiting by adding Chinese elements to its films, it won’t be making wholesale changes to the way it tells stories on the screen just to cater to China’s massive audience.

Now that’s a ridiculous comment. Look at the remake to Red Dawn. They spent an extra million dollars after the film was finished to use CGI to replace all of the Chinese Army symbols with North Korean symbols. And not just to create a Chinese localized version. That was the finished copy. Granted that’s more of a B movie, but it was a radical re-write of the plot line after the movie was finished filming.

Jacob July 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm

In World War Z, the Chinese Communist Party makes a bunch of mistakes and China collapses into civil war, and the Chinese Communist Party gets replaced by a democracy.

The only countries and people made to “look good” in World War Z would probably be Israel and Western globalist types.

JWatts July 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm

When executives at Paramount viewed the latest cut of the $175 million Brad Pitt zombie film “World War Z,” they were not concerned by the violence or its reengineered ending. They were worried about a minor plot point that involved a sensitive topic: China.

In the offending scene, characters debate the geographic origin of an outbreak that caused a zombie apocalypse and point to China, a Paramount executive told TheWrap.

Normally the detail would not have merited discussion at the top echelons of the studio. But given the fast-rising prominence of the Chinese market, state censorship and the quotas for U.S. releases, the studio advised the movie producers to drop the reference to China and cite a different country as a possible source of the pandemic, an executive with knowledge of the film told TheWrap.

The change was made in recent days in the hopes of landing a deal for one of Paramount’s biggest summer movies to play in China, the world’s fastest-growing film market.

Source: http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/fearing-chinese-censors-paramount-changes-world-war-z-exclusive-83316?page=0,0

I’m not claiming that they edited the movie to make China look pristine, but they clearly edited specific content to avoid censorship from the Chinese government.

The only countries and people made to “look good” in World War Z would probably be Israel and Western globalist types.

I have yet to see the movie, but that’s a pretty good description of the book.

anon July 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm

“The only countries and people made to “look good” in World War Z would probably be Israel and Western globalist types”

I’m waiting for the “Jews run Hollywood” and “Jews control the media” comments. Steve?

mike July 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm

As someone else pointed out, that’s the way it was in the book. Which happened to be written by a perfidious jew, of course…

Bender Bending Rodriguez July 20, 2013 at 4:53 am

The Zombie Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

DF July 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm

To be fair, the Chinese and Russian jaegers fell immmediately, and it was the American and Australian jaegers that saved the day. I’d like to think this has its origins in our pivot to Asia…

affenkopf July 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Meanwhile there are more TV shows with nudity.

Brett July 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I think the “no kissing” thing works. Raleigh and Mori’s relationship felt close, but not really romantic.

Ashok Rao July 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm

“There is more here. You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene, except when the female lead sneakingly admires the torso of the male lead.”

I think it’s about time for a New York Times special report investigating whether they have sex in China.

Axa July 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm

somehow they are 1.3 billion. I guess they don’t watch TV that much and keep making children.

musica

Todd July 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I think this overstates the shaping of Hollywood films for Chinese audiences, and underestimates the traditional Hollywood tailoring of Summer blockbusters for pre-teen and teenage audiences (and by extension, for the people giving these kids the money and transportation to the multiplex).

Buchanan July 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

There is more here. You will note that in Pacific Rim they do not kiss, respect and loyalty to family are major motives in the plot, and there is nothing approaching a nude scene, except when the female lead sneakingly admires the torso of the male lead.

Yes but Hollywood still tends to promote its traditional tropes such as absurdly multicultural/multiracial crews, blond Northern European bad guys, black male authority figures, miscegenation, etc.

Millian July 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I’m sorry that black male authority figures make you feel so angry that you have to vent it in public.

ladderff July 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm

If that were confined to the movies I’m sure he would have let it go

Buchanan July 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I’m sorry you feel compelled to try to shame someone for merely pointing out that Hollywood promotes certain depictions. It appears they’ve had quite an effect on you.

GiT July 20, 2013 at 10:09 am

Miscegenation! How absurd! So you’re the kind of person who gets outraged by Cheerios commercials, I presume.

What a dope.

Buchanan July 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Of course I never said anything about being “outraged” by Hollywood tropes. I merely pointed them out. The fact that merely pointing them out compels people to try to shame those pointing them out suggests that they’re having their desired effect.

GiT July 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Sorry, people noting your absurd views about what’s absurd doesn’t suggest anything in particular, other than that you’re rather ridiculous.

Konkvistador July 21, 2013 at 10:03 am

Actually Buchanan is correct in pointing out the strangeness of your own response if one looks at it on the surface level. I would argue GiT’s emotional response is best explained by his sacredness buttons being pressed. http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/03/do_liberals_use.html

Tylerh July 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm

While I agree with the general thesis, Pacific Rim is a terrible example of Hollywood pandering to China.

Hong Kong fails to defend itself, despite help from the Russians, and is saved by a Japanese- American alliance. This just about the worst possible politics to get past the Chinese censors. And the script writers clearly sensed this: There is Japanese dialog, the Russians look *good*, but the only character moment for the Chinese pilots ( who are Canadian actors) is a scene of them playing the American sport of basketbal.

I doubt Pacific Rim will be approved for showing in Chinese theaters outside of Hong Kong.

C July 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I have to agree — I went with three Taiwanese-American friends and they were fairly bummed-out about the Chinese mech basically being whipped in no time by the aliens (all sizzle, no substance). I also thought the Chinese mech pilots were the least interestingly identifiable (the Russians, in all their cartoon-like glory, were frankly glorious in comparison … as was their mech). And as has been raised already, the female lead is emphatically Japanese and she is the primary exemplar and register “for the respect and loyalty to family” line.

Clay July 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Yeah, I thought the movie was blatantly Japanese in terms of culture — after all, we’re talking about Giant Robots fighting monsters. The Alamo Drafthouse even went so far as to run clips of old Japanese monster movies as well as this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iZ0WuNvHr8 prior to the show. Also, the “Chinese” cultural aspects mentioned would also apply to Japanese culture if I’m not mistaken. I guess they were in Hong Kong, but that’s a small token in a very Japanese-American (but with Euro actors — the “American” accents were terrible) film.

FC July 21, 2013 at 1:41 am

So Paul Krugman is a China bear while Roland Emmerich is not. TMI, fellows.

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