They’re about to get a lot blander. David Gritten in The Telegraph:
It seems the whole film industry, both here and in Hollywood, is looking hopefully east – specifically to China. It’s not rocket science: China is by far the fastest-expanding territory for movies. Last year it overtook Japan to become the world’s second-biggest market after the US; the smart money says it will be number one within seven years.
That’s good news for Hollywood studios, eager to do deals with China because it’s awash with financing money. And bear in mind the astronomical budgets of Hollywood’s summer action movies – revenues from China will help recoup investment.
But I’d say: be careful what you wish for. Chinese participation in western productions comes at a cost. Behind the financing money on offer, there are conditions. And those conditions stray beyond the narrow confines of the film industry into politics.
For instance, in order for a western film to be seen in China, its script may need to be modified. Nothing remotely resembling a critique of Chinese life, government or history is acceptable. Politically ‘sensitive’ topics are out of the question. Nudity is frowned upon and some scenes of violence, even though they might be acceptable in the west, would need to be excised.
What’s the big deal about editing out a few scenes? Well, it’s a big deal if the studios decide they’d rather avoid that extra step and just make one movie for the whole planet from the get-go.
And of course, a need to tailor movies for China mean some stories simply won’t get told at all, at least not by the studios:
And then there’s the cultural argument. Director Steven Soderbergh, who in exasperation has finally given up working within the studio system, rightly points out that Hollywood’s mega-budget movies already require such a broad appeal to recoup their investment that they’re inevitably bland and simplified.
Be afraid. This is only the beginning.