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Do not expect many Chinese villains in future Bond films

12-Jun-2012 • Bond News

In an interesting report on the state of Hollywood and its cowing down to Chinese audiences, the LA Times speculates that movie goers are unlikely to see many villains from the world's most populous country in future big screen adventures.

Chinese censors are known to cut any derogatory or negative portrayals of their country or nationals, even when completely fantastical, and Hollywood studios are now preemptively satisfying the wishes of the communist state to ensure their movie gets in front of the huge audience.

Recent examples of movies changed in post production to meet China's requirements include Sony's "Men In Black 3" (where scenes set in New York's Chinatown that they believed depicted Chinese Americans unflatteringly were cut. Sony refused to comment) and MGM's remake of "Red Dawn" (where the aggressors were switched from China to North Korea with CGI after filming had wrapped). Both studios are working together on "Skyfall" and the next 007 adventure, Bond 24.

James Bond will be in Shanghai in "Skyfall," though the production isn't receiving Chinese funding, and the first unit did not travel to China (scenes were created at Pinewood Studios). Nevertheless, do not expect many Chinese 'bad guys' in the film. At least in the version shown in China.

The potential for the Chinese box-office is too tempting to Hollywood, who are seeing flat or declining revenues in traditional, Western markets.

Recent movies like "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" even went so far as to add Chinese organizations and characters in positive roles, despite them not even being part of the original source novel.

"Hollywood these days is sometimes better at carrying water for the Chinese than the Chinese themselves," said Stanley Rosen, director of the East Asian Studies Center at USC and an expert on film and media. "We are doing all the heavy lifting for them."

Furthermore, if a movie is co-financed by a Chinese organization, a movie can bypass the rigid foreign-release quota at the nations box-office. But such films often must include some Chinese elements — positive ones. Marvel Studios' "Iron Man 3," which recently began filming in locales including North Carolina and China, is expected to show a highly friendly side to the Chinese, because the production is accepting Chinese funds from the financing entity DMG.

"It's a clear-cut case — maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood — where a foreign country's censorship board deeply affects what we produce," said a leading Hollywood producer who, like several others interviewed for the LA Times story, spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to offend potential Chinese partners.

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