It’s not news that when it comes to the box office, Hollywood is increasingly looking overseas to make money on expensive blockbusters, and by far the most important market globally right now is China. But is the content of the films being unduly affected by the need to perform strongly in what is not only the world’s largest economy, but one presided over by a totalitarian regime keen to micromanage its image? That’s the question NPR explores in this fascinating report about the film industry’s relationship to China.
“The censorship always goes back to the Communist Party. They’re in charge and they’re always looking at how China is portrayed. They didn’t want to see something that portrayed it … [as] a developing country,” says T.J. Green, the CEO of Chinese cinema company Apex Entertainment. It’s this fact that’s at the heart of this discussion. Whether it’s deleting scenes from movies or crafting sequences specifically for that market, Hollywood is willing to do what it takes to get their films screened in China. But some worry it might set a dangerous precedent.
“The Chinese censors can act as world film police on how China can be depicted, how China’s government can be depicted in Hollywood films. Therefore, films critical of the Chinese government will be absolutely taboo,” posits Ying Zhu, professor of media culture at the College of Staten Island at the City University of New York.
Listen to the full report below.