Can a distant country change one of the brightest industries of another? Is it possible to have so much influence? Well yes, it is happening. China is changing the Hollywood industry by promoting self-censorship, the goal of Hollywood studios is to introduce as many films as possible in the quotas that the Chinese government imposes on film imports, 34 per year.
How is this possible? Let’s say it is a combination of a combination of factors, the first is the changes in our way of enjoying our free time in the West, the second is the strong growth of film projection in China and the third is that it is a balance that nobody is interested in breaking.
In the West we don’t go to the movies as much, unlike in China
Let’s be clear, this was already happening long before the pandemic and it is partly the fault of the cinemas as I said here, in the West we go less to the movies. Not only do we entertain ourselves with alternative leisure, such as going to dinner or video games, but streaming platforms are offering audiovisual entertainment.
On the other hand, in China it is still an interesting activity, and its film projection industry depends less and less to be successful showing a foreign film, national productions are more and more interesting.
But for a Hollywood studio putting one of these films among the most viewed in China can make a big difference in the profitability of the film. In 2020, the Chinese box office surpassed the US box office, making it more important for the Los Angeles industry to enter the Chinese market. In 2020 there were about 41,000 cinema screens in China, in 2021 that number was around 75,000 screens, the growth of the film industry is in China, and Hollywood knows it.
In addition, it is not so easy to sell films in China, one thing is for it to be licensed and another for it to be successful. Comedies don’t usually work, maybe the sense of humor is different, but thrillers and action movies do.
The studios strive to satisfy Beijing
Since China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, completing its strong presence in the world, everyone wants to sell in China, and Hollywood is no exception. Consider the 2012 movie Looper. It’s science fiction and it’s about the consequences of time travel. At the time, another series of very successful films related to time travel had been rejected, “Back to the Future”. Why? Apparently he didn’t like the possibility that the story could be altered. Looper shows precisely that, instead the film was shown in the cinemas of China.
How? Producers strove to fulfill the vision of a futuristic China that is the center of the world in which Shanghai is even more futuristic than it is now.
Instead with the next Marvel movie, Eternals, it is directed by Chloe Zhao, who was born in Beijing and her stepmother Song Dandan is a well-known Chinese actress. He has also won an Oscar for his film Nomadland. Well, due to statements against the Chinese Communist Party regime, Nomadland has been withdrawn and Eternals runs the risk of being unauthorized. On the contrary, John Cena, who plays the antagonist in Fast & Furious 9, repeatedly apologized through his Chinese social media pages for calling Taiwan a country, and the Fast & Furious saga is quite successful in China.
Self-censorship and censorship
Self-censorship and censorship is not uncommon in Hollywood, used to exporting its product in multiple options. In 1939 in the film Mr Smith goes to Washington he ended up causing a code of self-censorship in Hollywood, but there are more cases such as the adaptation of films in Scandinavia.
But Hollywood has been self-censoring for a long time, and except for a few artists like Quentin Tarantino, few are dissatisfied with the situation. According to the professor at the University of Virginia and author of the book Hollywood Made in China, the industry is not interested in recognizing this situation. On the one hand, if it was recognized, the reaction of the press would not be small, on the other hand, China may have chosen to import films from other places, instead of those from Hollywood, that is to say that for the moment the situation in southern California It is “a la chita shut up”. Nobody is interested in breaking this balance, some because they get what they want and others because that is how they sell and keep profits afloat.
Ask the readers, Do you know of any other industry that is changing so much just to meet the demands of a third country?