Two years later, the quota of imported movies permitted into China was raised to 34 from 20 in a deal negotiated between then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Vice President Xi. The deal all but guaranteed that most big-budget Hollywood features—except those with content deemed objectionable—would be shown in China.
“I prefer to watch Hollywood films because the chance of a domestic film being crappy is much bigger than a Hollywood film,” said Liu Jing, a 25-year-old postgraduate student studying finance policy in Beijing.
Ms. Jing said she became a fan of superhero films from Marvel Studios as a high-school student and now goes to movie theaters at least once a month.
Hollywood executives can rattle off the rules for getting a movie approved by Chinese censors: no sex (too unseemly); no ghosts (too spiritual). Among 10 prohibited plot elements are “disrupts the social order” and “jeopardizes social morality.” Time travel is frowned upon because of its premise that individuals can change history.
U.S. filmmakers sometimes anticipate Chinese censors and alter movies before their release. The Oscar-winning alien-invasion drama “Arrival” was edited to make a Chinese general appear less antagonistic before the film’s debut in China this year.
The superhero hit “Logan” was 14 minutes shorter in China after Chinese censors cut scenes of beheading and impalement.
For “Passengers,” the space adventure starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, a scene showing Mr. Pratt’s bare backside was removed, and a scene of Mr. Pratt chatting in Mandarin with a robot bartender was added.
Here is the full Eric Schwartzel WSJ piece.