Hollywood is so desperate to grow their businesses in China they would almost do anything.
Look the other way while the Chinese government continues to abuse the basic human rights of its citizens? Check.
Alter the content or severely edit a movie in order to pass Chinese censors? Check. (Reminder – theater owners in Utah often want to edit the content of a movie and movie studios tell them to go F themselves.)
There are even allegations (but we know it’s true) that Hollywood pays bribes to Chinese officials in return for preferential treatment when it comes to filming in China and getting their films into China.
Is 1.3 billion people and their growing disposable income really that important to major media companies around the world?
Unfortunately, yes. And it has always been this way.
Hollywood didn’t even criticize China after the Tiananmen Square massacre in which thousands of innocent protesters were mowed down by PLA tanks and guns.
That was 23 years ago and they’re still trying to crack that horribly corrupt market. (At right: Imagine the lone protester symbolizes Hollywood – the tanks are China.)
Reality check: It’s never going to happen in the way that you would like, Hollywood.
China can sign whatever contracts you want signed – but, in the end, they will not honor them and you will leave, beaten, with your tails between your legs.
Chinese officials know this and are laughing at you as you put so much pride and resources on the line time after time.
Now there is a new disturbing trend that has popped up recently. The co-funding of Chinese local language films by U.S. companies.
Does this mean, as all Chinese-made films and scripts must be approved by the Chinese Central government, that Hollywood is funding Chinese propaganda?
Of course. This is truly an amazing, laughable coup by China.
I can just imagine some of the conversations with producers about story ideas:
- New film about Chairman Mao and his glorious early days on The Long March? (Hollywood: “No problem. We’ll fund half of that if you let us shoot our next superhero blockbuster in the middle of Shanghai.”)
- New film about how The Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution was actually a tremendous success? (Hollywood: “Um… weren’t millions killed or persecuted? Wasn’t that a horrific–”) China: “Do you want to shoot on the Great Wall or not?” (Hollywood: “Uh… OK, I guess a few revisions to your script are fine by us but legal would like our logo taken off the finished product.”) China: Deal – can we get that check now?
Granted, it’s not quite that simplistic – but it’s not that far off either.
I worry that Hollywood is getting taken advantage of by their dumber and less savvy “partners” across the Pacific.
It’s similar to the way Silicon Valley is attempting to undermine Hollywood by just grabbing whatever high-end premium content they need (without much payment) to make their devices cooler.
The bottom line is this: Let’s take human rights and actual motives involved out of the equation and look at it from a purely business standpoint. No matter what percentages are negotiated and no matter how many movies Hollywood gets into China – China is not going to pay what they owe and contracts mean nothing.
But, in the end, it’s 1.3 billion people with growing disposable income. And an attempt must be made, I suppose. In theory, there is A LOT of money there.
So… here’s how it plays out… China is going to build the world’s largest film industry off of the creative and technical knowledge of Hollywood and then… they’re going to send Hollywood home… without a check.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea