Why is China censoring US films

Cinema censorship - film producer warns of Chinese influence in Hollywood

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Author: Thomas von Grünigen

  • China's influence on Hollywood is increasing. The content of the films will be adapted to the taste of the government in Beijing.
  • This development worries many filmmakers.
  • China also financially participates in various films and production companies. That creates dependencies.

The film was called "Seven Years in Tibet" and China protested loudly. But back then, in 1997, hardly anyone cared about that in Hollywood. The Brad Pitt flick was released despite criticism from China and became a box-office hit.

Today, large US studios would hardly dare to make a film that does not suit China, says media scientist and China expert Aynne Kokas. China's voice now carries a lot more weight in Hollywood. Because of the dramatically increased middle class, China has become the second largest cinema market in the world.

Uncritical image of China

In today's US blockbusters, for example, autocratic China is sometimes shown in the best possible light: In the film "The Martian", China uses the latest space technology to help rescue a US astronaut who has disappeared on Mars. And in "Independence Day: Return" American and Chinese armed forces go side by side in the war against the aliens.

Today, large US studios hardly dare to make a film that does not suit China.
Author: Aynne KokasMedia scientist and China expert

It is not uncommon for Chinese companies or investors to be directly involved in films. The production company Legendary Entertainment (“Jurassic World”, “The Great Wall”), for example, is owned by the Chinese Wanda Group.

Chinese "soft power"

"The Chinese government has made it clear that it wants to increase so-called ," says Kokas. It is about improving the country's image, generating positive reactions and influencing the decisions of other countries ».

Film producer Scott Rosenfelt, who produced box office hits like "Kevin - Alone at Home", speaks of censorship. He considers the Chinese influence to be politically and ethically problematic: "I do not speak for Legendary, but if they are making a thriller and the Chinese media authority says you cannot do this or that, then they will obey and change the film."

Films are adjusted

In fact, there have been some noticeable changes to US films in recent years. In “Doctor Strange”, the character of a Tibetan man from the comic book in the film was replaced by a white woman (Tilda Swinton). And “Red Dawn” originally showed attacks by Chinese forces against the United States. Subsequently, the Chinese symbols were digitally replaced by North Korean ones on the cut.

China currently limits the number of foreign films that can be shown in the country to 34. In order to get around this barrier, US studios often get involved in co-productions with Chinese studios. These films are considered to be domestic in China, and at the same time the Chinese media authority receives direct censorship options.

Either you accept it or you take a stand.
Author: Scott RosenfeltFilm producer

Producer Rosenfelt has experienced censorship on his own film project. He was asked to change scenes in which Chinese police officers behave clumsily. Some filmmakers would accept that, he says, but he has withdrawn from China a little in recent years: "Either you accept it or you take a stand."

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  • Comment from Ursula Keller (Note)
    I would have a simple solution - just forego the Chinese market, then you don't have to adapt the slightest thing. Anyone who has seen the embarrassing, low budget movie "Red Dawn" immediately understands why a country would rather do without this film. Hollywood produces super good to very miserable films at the same time (which is normal with the large number of them).
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Franz NANNI (igwena ndlovu)
    Dress up warmly in the "West" China is on the march and you haven't noticed it yet!
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Andreas Wiedler (infonews)
    As the majority have already stated, China is a huge power apparatus. The film industry and censorship are also part of that. Without them things would not have gone so well in the former GDR for so long. In Arab countries, entire hordes are still busy censoring naked bodies and alcohol advertisements from magazines and newspapers. If the state doesn't want, then it doesn't ...
    Agree agree to the comment

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