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Thread: Chollywood rising

  1. #391
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    Ridiculous

    I've seen the screener. Fu Manchu isn't even in this. And Tony Leung is fantastic as always - one of the most complex MCU villains so far.

    Aug 18, 2021 11:46am PT
    Marvel President Kevin Feige Addresses China’s Biggest ‘Shang-Chi’ Concerns


    By Rebecca Davis

    Jasin Boland / Courtesy of Marvel Studios
    Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige addressed Chinese fans’ most pressing concerns about the upcoming “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in a recent interview.

    Feige held an exclusive 14-minute-long interview in English with the well-regarded veteran Chinese film critic Raymond Zhou on the day of the film’s U.S. red carpet premiere (it’s out widely on Sept. 3), which shone a spotlight on China’s biggest gripes so far about the film.

    “Shang-Chi” doesn’t yet have a China release date, and it’s unclear whether it has formally passed censorship. Past franchise successes prove that crossing that hurdle into the world’s largest film market will of course be key to the title’s global gross.

    One of the last major overseas trips Feige took before COVID-19 shutdowns was to Shanghai in 2019 for an “Avengers: Endgame” promotional event, he told Zhou, calling it “one of the biggest MCU fan events I’ve ever been [to].” The film opened in China two days before the U.S., and grossed $629 million there to become the country’s highest grossing foreign film of all time, and its sixth largest earner overall.

    Marvel is clearly hoping that the franchise’s first Asian superhero will have the same box office appeal, despite some strong local concerns that have been brewing since the project was first announced.

    Many Chinese viewers insist that any film based on comics featuring the archetypically stereotyped character Fu Manchu — who is Shang-Chi’s father and nemesis in the original comics — will turn out to be a racist depiction. Feige, however, explained that the character is “just one of the truths about the early comic books” but is not in the movie “in any way, shape or form” and is not a Marvel character.

    He emphasized and reiterated the point a number of times.

    “[Fu Manchu] is not a character we own or would ever want to own. It was changed in the comics many, many, many years ago. We never had any intention of [having him] in this movie,” he said. Later: “Definitively, Fu Manchu is not in this movie, is not Shang-Chi’s father, and again, is not even a Marvel character, and hasn’t been for decades.”

    A second concern in China is that in the comics, Shang-Chi is at times portrayed as abandoning his Chinese roots to embrace the West, and in one plot line even goes so far as to kill his father.

    “That’s certainly one of the elements we’ve changed,” Feige reassured. “All of our comics go back 60, 70, 80 years. Almost everything has happened in almost every comic, and we chose the elements that we like to turn into an MCU feature. So that story is not what this is about.”

    The film actually tells the opposite story, he explained, depicting how Shang-Chi returns to engage with his father’s legacy after running away from it in his youth. He stressed: “That sense of running away…is presented as one of his flaws. It is a flaw to run away to the West and to hide from his legacy and his family — that’s how the movie is presented. And how he will face that and overcome that is part of what the story’s about.”

    The framing is well-aimed. Chinese audiences in recent years have been particularly drawn to emotional stories about family without black-and-white battles of good against evil, attributes that helped shoot films like local animation “Ne Zha” and sci-fi spectacle “The Wandering Earth” to unexpected box office heights.

    “Shang-Chi” ticks all those boxes, Feige said, describing the film’s story as one centred on the love, conflict and misunderstandings between a father and son, and unique in that there is no true villain.

    Feige said Tony Leung, who plays the film’s ambiguous, flawed bad guy, is “the heart of the movie,” calling the Hong Kong icon “one of the greatest actors in the world.”

    At one point, Zhou posed a question about the uncomfortable but widespread criticism in China that Simu Liu is not attractive or charismatic enough by local standards to carry the role, making the casting choice racist. As Zhou delicately put it, the decision has “caused a lot of misunderstandings among Chinese fans.”

    Feige explained that many of the MCU’s origin stories for new characters featured lesser known or unknown actors who were right for the part and went on to stardom, citing Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Chris Evans and even Robert Downey, Jr., whose casting sparked initial blowback.

    The executive urged viewers to see the movie before making judgements.

    “Let all the hard work that the performer does be the proof, and not just the announcement or the Google search when somebody learns their name,” he said.

    The interview was seen locally as part successful charm offensive and part last-minute damage control. One film blogger deemed Feige “quite sincere,” with answers that had “basically no ambiguity or deliberate side-stepping.”

    In a comment like over 3,000 times, a Weibo user wrote: “I was previously thinking about not seeing it, but this has finally dispelled my doubts; I feel like I can watch the film with ease.”

    Others bristled that Feige only addressed the widespread Chinese concerns about “Shang-Chi” at the last minute, when its box office there appeared to potentially be in jeopardy.

    As one Weibo user cynically commented: “To sum up: ‘We don’t want to lose the mainland China market.’”

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  2. #392
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    3 years...

    This is what was feared when HK turned over to PRC in 97...

    Aug 24, 2021 1:09am PT
    Illegal Film Screenings to Be Punished With Three-Year Jail Terms Under Hong Kong Censorship Law


    By Patrick Frater


    Courtesy of Celestial Tiger Entertainment
    Hong Kong is to introduce a new film censorship law that could send anyone responsible for illegal screenings to jail for up to three years. Offenders could also be liable to a HK$1 million ($128,000) fine.

    The new law is intended to codify national security concerns that were introduced into the city’s film classification ordinance as recently as June.

    The moves were announced by the government’s commerce secretary Edward Yau at a press conference on Tuesday.

    As well as codifying the Film Censorship Authority’s powers and duties regarding national security, the new law will allow the government to appoint an official representative to the Board of Review and do away with non-official members.

    It will also cancel a film distributor or exhibitor’s right to appeal against a board decision if the decision is made on national security grounds.

    Although the government has said that the July 2021 National Security Law does not have retrospective effect, the new film censorship law appears to have retroactive impact and undo existing classifications of past titles.

    It will “empower the Chief Secretary for Administration to direct the Film Censorship Authority to revoke certificates of approval or certificates of exemption previously issued for films if their exhibition would be contrary to the interests of national security.”

    That means that films such “Ten Years,” a dystopian portmanteau film made in 2015 that predicted how everyday Hong Kong life would under the yoke of mainland Chinese rule, could soon be banned.
    Hong Kong has witnessed unprecedented social and political turmoil since mid-2019 when the government attempted to introduce a law allowing extradition to mainland China. After a year of civil disobedience and violent clashes between police and pro-democracy forces the mainland government silenced protests by injecting the National Security Law into an annex of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

    Since that time, the city’s election and education systems have been upended and a trades union disbanded.

    In the entertainment and media sector, pro-Beijing media have pressurized exhibitors to cancel screenings of a documentary about the 2019-20 protests, the public broadcaster RTHK has been neutered and the city’s leading pro-democracy newspaper has been bankrupted.

    The film censorship law will receive a first and second reading in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Wednesday next week (Sept. 1). Opposition politicians have all resigned, meaning that the pro-government majority is certain to get its way.

    Yau said the law was necessary for “more effective fulfilment of the duty to safeguard national security as required by the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as well as preventing and suppressing acts or activities that may endanger national security.”
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  3. #393
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    Chollywood risen

    Unfortunately the key element - the graphs - won't cut&paste here easily. You'll just have to go to the original article.

    Aug 25, 2021 11:05am PT
    Why Hollywood Movies are Being Squeezed Out in China, and What Happens Next


    By Patrick Frater

    Jonny Cournoyer
    Hollywood film franchises such as “xXx,” “Warcraft” and “Resident Evil” used to be largely sustained by their box office performance in China, which significantly exceeded their North American hauls and drove global grosses. Frequently, Hollywood titles would dominate the Chinese box office charts during most weeks.

    But in recent years, that tide has been turning. In 2018, Hollywood topped the local B.O. over 25 weekends, closely followed by Chinese-made winners, which conquered 22 weekends. Now, the studios are struggling for traction in what has become the world’s single largest theatrical market.

    In the first eight months of 2021, Hollywood titles have been chart toppers on just eight occasions, driven by an ageing “Fast and the Furious” franchise, and over two weeks by a rereleased “Avatar.” Hollywood’s share of the China box office market in 2021 has collapsed to a shocking 9.5%, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway.

    This year, there are only two U.S. pictures in China’s top-15 rankings. In contrast, the top two films at the global box office so far this year are China’s “Hi Mom” on $822 million, and “Detective Chinatown 3” on $686 million, ahead of “F9: The Fast Saga” with $681 million.



    “[COVID aside] this year would have been a difficult time for import films and Hollywood in particular,” says Artisan Gateway principal Rance Pow. “The Chinese films that have been popular have become very popular and on top by quite some distance.”

    But it wasn't always this way. The modern-day Chinese film industry is still relatively young and grew up alongside a Hollywood market share that reached 50% in some years.

    However, the government has done its best to keep U.S. titles in check. A system of import controls exercises quota allocations; blackout periods often cordon off three or four prime seasons per year for Chinese-language film releases; and the use of a censorship approval system diminishes pre-release marketing to just a few weeks.

    There hasn't been a single significant Hollywood release in China since “A Quiet Place Part II” on May 28 and "Luca" on Aug. 20. Meanwhile, Disney-Marvel titles haven't been released in China since “Avengers: Endgame” in April 2019. In fact, “Black Widow” still remains without a release permit in China.

    Since the pandemic struck, the supply of Hollywood movies into China has been thin and sharply out of synch with China’s V-shaped economic recovery which started in mid-2020. Industry sources have told Variety that revenue share quota slots remain available — an almost unprecedented situation.

    In a late July filing, IMAX China indicated that audiences have returned to Chinese theaters, and particularly IMAX theaters, in numbers approximating pre-pandemic attendance levels, but they're there for Chinese-language films and the handful of Hollywood films that were available. "The delay of certain Hollywood film release dates impacted IMAX's Hollywood films box office,” reads the filing.

    However, the release hiatus, combined with the studios’ experimentation with day-and-date theatrical-streaming releases, has caused all U.S. summer titles to be heavily pirated. The weak $5 million debut of “Luca” is a prime example.

    Changing local tastes drive support for Chinese fare
    Just as concerning from a Hollywood point of view have been changes in audience structure and taste. It's widely believed that as Chinese exhibitors have built theaters in smaller towns and cities, they have addressed a more local market and diluted the population that's likely to watch foreign movies. At the same time, Chinese movie-making has become more sophisticated, more blockbuster-driven and backed by bigger budgets. Prodded by central government, mainland Chinese filmmakers have reached into previously off-limit genres.

    That means Hollywood is no longer the only purveyor of well-packaged action and sci-fi movies, or franchises built around other forms of proven IP, such as comics, TV or streaming series and games.

    Concurrently, China’s 'main melody' titles — nationalistic fare that emphasizes Socialist values — have also raised their game. Flooding out from private sector studios and employing established filmmakers, many are premium productions with stars and stellar production values that deliver real audience appeal.

    Ultimately, whether or not Hollywood’s recent troubles are COVID-related or more systemic, U.S. studios have struggled to participate in the rebound that got underway in July 2020 after China’s cinemas had been closed for five and a half months.

    The recovery accelerated in September when cinema capacity restrictions were eased from 50% to 75%, and China became the first theatrical market to reach operational normality, according to U.K.-based researcher Gower Street Analytics. Activity was sustained at a high level until June 2021, when attendance levels began to fall noticeably short of 2019 levels, due in part to dwindling Hollywood fare, an over-saturation of political movies and movie theater restrictions.


    China's “Hi Mom” is topping the global box office with $822 million.
    Beijing Culture
    Politics will impact next chapter
    What happens next depends on a series of political factors. The already unusually long summer blackout period could be stretched until after the Oct. 1 National Day festivities. That would have the effect of squeezing any remaining Hollywood films into the last three months of the year.

    Movies that may be at risk include “The Eternals," directed by Chloé Zhao, who was branded a traitor for her past comments; “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," where Disney may not have done enough to diffuse charges of racism; “Space Jam: A New Legacy," because American basketball continues to be a sensitive subject following an NBA official’s 2019 comments on Hong Kong; and “Top Gun," which is seen as promoting the U.S. military.

    The political standoff between China and the U.S. has already gummed up film industry negotiations. Now there's the possibility that, in a tit-for-tat move following U.S. moves against ZTE, TikTok and Huawei, China may be deliberately hobbling one of America’s biggest export industries. Several seemingly uncontroversial Hollywood titles are without release approvals or dates, including “Jungle Cruise” and “The Suicide Squad.” Sci-fi spectacular “Dune” has the advantage of being backed by the Wanda-owned Legendary Entertainment, but some online commentators are still cool about its prospects.

    Possibly the most complicated calculation is whether policy or economics will guide the Chinese government’s thinking about the film industry through the last third of the year.

    The National Radio & Television Administration is understood to have set a box office target of RMB60 billion ($9.23 billion at current exchange rates) for this year. That's largely the same as 2018’s score of RMB60.7 billion and the RMB64.3 billion achieved in 2019, when Chinese-language titles earned a combined RMB41.2 billion.

    Since June, cumulative national box office is now running some 24% below 2019 levels, at $4.93 billion to Aug. 15. With new outbreaks of COVID-19 prompting reinstated cinema restrictions and the postponement of a couple of major local titles, that target looks to be almost out of reach.

    Regulators will have to decide whether to help China’s cinema chains by allowing more Hollywood imports, or whether, in this politically sensitive year, the U.S. should be kept at bay, even if that means a box office stumble.

    Such a scenario would, in turn, raise new questions in Hollywood: if China becomes an unreliable partner, why would Chinese factors need to be taken into consideration at the greenlight stage?
    Gene Ching
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  4. #394
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing View Post
    Unfortunately the key element - the graphs - won't cut&paste here easily. You'll just have to go to the original article.
    ...or looky here:
    Attached Images Attached Images   

  5. #395
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    Nice.

    Thanks for the assist!
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  6. #396
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    Sold out? It's Hollywood. Does that term have any meaning there at all?

    How Hollywood Sold Out to China
    A culture of acquiescing to Beijing’s censors is now the norm, and there’s little sign of it changing.

    By Shirley Li

    Wang Zhao / AFP / Getty
    7:00 AM ET
    SHARE
    Chloé zhao, the director of Nomadland, is new Hollywood royalty. In April, she made history as the first woman of color to win Best Director at the Oscars. In November, her big-budget Marvel movie, Eternals, will arrive in theaters. She commands so much admiration from the industry right now that she gets away with showing up to the red carpet of a film premiere in jeans.

    Zhao was, for a time, just as warmly regarded in China. Born in Beijing, she also has ties to Chinese entertainment royalty: Her stepmother, Song Dandan, is one of the most celebrated comic actresses in the country. And Zhao’s success in Hollywood made her the model of a crossover artist, bringing Chinese sensibilities to American filmmaking. In March, the Communist Party–owned newspaper Global Times anointed her “the pride of China.”

    But then an eight-year-old interview in which Zhao called the country a place “where there are lies everywhere” spread online. Beijing responded by deleting social-media celebrations of her Oscar win and canceling the release of Nomadland. Eternals, which should have been a shoo-in to screen across China, now faces a potential ban. Swiftly and quietly, Zhao’s native country appears to have disowned her—at least, for now. (Zhao declined to comment on the matter.)

    Hers is a cautionary tale—and a common one these days. No matter their clout in Hollywood, filmmakers and actors have always been subject to bosses who decide which movies get to soar at the box office and which are left to languish. Now, more than ever before, that boss is Beijing.

    In 2020, the Chinese film market officially surpassed North America’s as the world’s biggest box office, all but ensuring that Hollywood studios will continue to do everything possible for access to the country. This also means China will assert itself more aggressively to control Hollywood. The country, which already places a quota on the number of foreign films that can be screened every year, banned them for nearly two months this summer because of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party’s founding.

    Meanwhile, China’s film industry now churns out its own big-budget franchises, lessening the country’s dependence on the next Fast & Furious installment. Though some American filmmakers, such as Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow, have pushed back on China’s demands, they are the rare exceptions willing and able to weather any potential repercussions. Instead, the film industry has regularly shaped its productions to please Beijing; whenever Hollywood fails, it either issues self-flagellatory public apologies or remains silent on the matter altogether. (Universal, Disney, and the other major Hollywood studios I reached out to for this story all declined to comment or did not respond to my requests.)

    With studios now implementing their own limits on free speech, America’s supposedly gutsy, creative entertainment industry is at rapid risk of making preemptive self-censorship the standard. During the blacklist era of the 1940s and ’50s, Hollywood studios infamously submitted to domestic political pressure. Today, film censorship—the rise of which you can literally watch on screen—has become one of the most visible examples of American businesses bending their values to satisfy China, and a worrying harbinger for any industry that wants access to the country’s consumers. China has simply become too lucrative for Hollywood to resist.
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  7. #397
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    continued from previous post


    Gilles Sabrié / The New York Times / Redux
    What critics might call censorship, Hollywood studios might label a market-entry strategy. The phenomenon has long been part of the global film industry. Post–World War II West German audiences saw a different version of Casablanca than the rest of the world. Last Tango in Paris, with its notoriously explicit sex scenes, was edited before it could be released in Britain and barred from being shown in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Three Nordic countries placed an age restriction on the film E.T. in 1982 after child psychologists accused the film of portraying adults as “enemies of children.”

    Thus, when China re-allowed Hollywood movies in the late 1980s and ’90s (they were banned during the Cultural Revolution) as long as it could select and edit the ones it wanted, American companies didn’t see red flags. “It’s all a version of self-regulation we’ve been going through for decades,” says Russell Schwartz, a former president of marketing at New Line Cinema and at Relativity Media, who oversaw campaigns for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Rush Hour sequels.

    When China began seriously investing in—not just importing, but co-producing or financing—Hollywood films in the 2000s, the country represented pure opportunity. “Everybody was doing backflips” to get their films screened, Schwartz told me. The Chinese government, which oversees the country’s entertainment industry, imposes a quota on international movies—34 a year, occasionally a couple extra—and determines release dates, how much advertising a film receives, and the number of theaters in which it can screen. Foreign studios, Schwartz told me, lobby fiercely for their titles to be allowed entry.

    Hollywood’s admittance into China might have appeared to be an opportunity for America to promote Western ideals in an authoritarian country. However, according to Wendy Su, an associate professor of media and cultural studies at UC Riverside and the author of China’s Encounter With Global Hollywood, Hollywood only ever had one, all-encompassing objective: “the vast Chinese market and the potential for greater profits,” she wrote over email. The country had been “extraordinarily underscreened” only two decades ago, Schwartz noted, but built theaters so quickly that it now boasts more than 75,500 screens, according to a report released in February (the U.S. had roughly 41,000 as of 2020). Films that underperform in the States can thus recuperate their losses abroad.

    Today, China’s box office doesn’t just represent opportunity for Hollywood; it can mean the difference between a studio’s success and failure. This has resulted in “anticipatory self-censorship” by the American film industry, says James Tager, the research director at PEN America, a nonprofit that promotes free expression, and the lead author of the organization’s exhaustive 2020 censorship report. Besides casting mainland-Chinese actors and shooting on location in China, the study says, studios even have regulators visit their sets—as was reportedly the case for Iron Man 3. (Marvel and Disney did not respond to a request for comment.)

    The Chinese government encourages this chilling effect by setting confusing, ever-shifting expectations, Tager told me. Time-travel narratives like Back to the Future were deemed “frivolous” and disrespectful of history—especially if such stories suggested the ability to alter reality. But 2012’s Looper, featuring scenes shot in Shanghai, with dialogue depicting China as a representation of the future, made it past censors. A culture of trying to predict the country’s needs is now the norm: Stories portraying Chinese characters as antagonists or featuring disagreement with Beijing in regions such as Tibet, Taiwan, and Xinjiang have been assumed off-limits. But China has also banned scenes from Bohemian Rhapsody, apparently for depicting same-sex relationships, and prohibited Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest altogether for including ghosts and cannibalism.

    Still, obvious pandering to Beijing can backfire in China. Audiences call a Chinese actor who appears in a Hollywood movie but plays a minimal role a hua ping, or a “flower vase”: nothing more than a recognizable face lazily included to help sell tickets. As the country’s own filmmaking industry has grown stronger, Chinese moviegoers have become more discerning about which foreign films to watch, and Hollywood’s share of the Chinese box office has lessened. Though action-thrillers such as Ready Player One fill seats in China, comedies still struggle to connect. “Many prospective clients have misinformed notions that China can be a savior market if you can only gain access,” Rance Pow, the CEO of Artisan Gateway, a consulting firm focused on Asia’s film industry, told me over email. “In fact … China can be a challenging, sometimes unforgiving environment for foreign fare.”

    If china’s apparent crackdown on Chloé Zhao’s work is a cautionary tale, then the case of John Cena is a tragicomic one. The WWE star turned actor appeared in this summer’s ​F9, the latest Fast & Furious blockbuster, and Universal Pictures jumped through all the right hoops to ensure its success. The film, co-produced with the state-owned China Film Group Corporation, premiered in China as well as several other places more than a month ahead of its stateside release—the longest lag ever for a Hollywood movie and a date seemingly chosen to accommodate the CCP’s centenary plans.

    Shortly after the film came out, Cena, who stars as the beefy villain in F9, posted a puzzling video to the Chinese social-media platform Weibo in which he awkwardly apologizes over and over in stilted Mandarin for “my mistake.” While Cena doesn’t name his offense, he had called Taiwan a country—a characterization the Chinese government adamantly opposes—during a press interview not long before the video. Cena’s apology made him a darling to Chinese nationalists and a punching bag for U.S. media. But the contrition paid off: F9 grossed $136 million in China its first weekend, nearly double its North American opening. Universal never confirmed what precipitated Cena’s video, and Cena hasn’t revisited the subject since. The only point of it, apparently, was to appease Beijing and move on.

    Supplication, then silence: That’s consistent with Hollywood’s larger publicity strategy when the hint of a China-related scandal arises. “The reason why no one wants to talk about this is because there’s no advantages to talking about this,” Tager told me. “They want this issue to go away.”

    According to analysts, studios are in a lose-lose position. Aynne Kokas, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Hollywood Made in China, explains that if Hollywood were to acknowledge self-censorship, the media blowback in the West would be significant, and China’s risk-averse government might blacklist Hollywood films to minimize attention. At the same time, she told me, studios might draw scrutiny from certain American legislators, harming their reputation at home. But Hollywood won’t stop caving to demands from Beijing, because that’s simply where the industry’s growth is. No other market, especially during the pandemic, comes close. “So in some ways it’s a problem with the American model,” Kokas said. “Can you make a product that is profitable without being in the Chinese market?”

    The answer, it seems, is no. So much of Hollywood’s business today resides on shaky ground. The pandemic’s effects, the streaming wars, the consolidation of studios, the expansion of franchises into theme-park attractions—they’re all unpredictable variables. Yet even as China’s investment in Hollywood has slowed amid a trade war with the U.S., Chinese moviegoers provide a rare constant for studios: a market for guaranteed profit, as long as Beijing approves. Tager suggested to me that perhaps Hollywood studios could band together to rewrite the rules, but few experts offered measures that would fundamentally change an asymmetrical relationship between the world’s largest producer of films and its most lucrative audience. In the end, Schwartz observed, “I don’t think we’ll ever really draw a line in the sand.”


    Shirley Li is a staff writer at The Atlantic​, where she covers culture.
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  8. #398
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    Still not in PRC

    Marvel's 'Shang-Chi' was made with China in mind. Here's why Beijing doesn't like it.
    "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" is the latest movie to run into trouble in the country as nationalism and U.S.-China tensions rise.

    Simu Liu in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."Marvel Studios
    Oct. 3, 2021, 1:30 AM PDT
    By Rhea Mogul
    HONG KONG — David Tse recalls being overcome with pride as he walked out of a British movie theater after having watched "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," Marvel's latest superhero film.

    "Our community has finally arrived in the West," Tse, a British Chinese actor and writer, said by telephone from Birmingham, England. "Every Chinese person around the world should be immensely proud of Shang-Chi."

    The film, Marvel's first with a predominantly Asian cast, has been a hit with global audiences, having earned more at U.S. theaters than any other movie during the coronavirus pandemic and grossed more than $366 million worldwide since it was released early last month.

    But despite its box office success and the overwhelmingly positive reaction of Asian communities worldwide, it isn't playing on a single screen in mainland China, which last year overtook North America as the world's biggest movie market. It's the latest film to run into trouble in the country as nationalism and U.S.-Chinese tensions rise.

    From the beginning, "Shang-Chi" was made with China in mind. Much of the film's dialogue is in Mandarin, and the cast includes some of Asian cinema's biggest names, including Michelle Yeoh and the Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung, making his Hollywood film debut.


    Marvel's first movie with a predominantly Asian cast has been a hit with global audiences. Courtesy of Marvel
    Simu Liu, a Chinese-born Canadian actor who also starred in the Netflix sitcom "Kim's Convenience," plays Shang-Chi, a reluctant martial arts warrior forced to confront his father. The film has been widely praised as a major step forward as Hollywood tries to improve representation of Asians and Asian Americans.

    "Finally we see a strong character that isn't stereotyped the way we have been for generations," Tse said. "Our young people are desperate for more of them."

    "Shang-Chi" hasn't gotten the same welcome in China, where movies are strictly censored and the number of foreign releases each year is limited. That hasn't stopped Marvel in the past — in 2019, "Avengers: Endgame" earned $629 million from mainland Chinese audiences, more than any other foreign film in history.

    Officials haven't said why "Shang-Chi" has no release date, and the propaganda department of China's ruling Communist Party, which regulates the country's film and TV industry, didn't respond to a request for comment.

    Experts point to the deterioration of U.S.-China relations, rising Chinese nationalism and the character's racist comic book past.

    Rife with stereotypes

    Marvel debuted the Shang-Chi character in 1973 amid growing American interest in martial arts movies. The early Shang-Chi comics were rife with stereotypes about Asians — the characters were portrayed in unnatural yellow tones. Shang-Chi's father, a power-hungry villain named Fu Manchu, has been criticized as a symbol of "yellow peril," a xenophobic ideology originating in the 19th century in which Asians, especially Chinese, were viewed as a threat to Western existence.

    Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has emphasized that Fu Manchu is no longer a character in Marvel comics and that Shang-Chi's father in the film, played by Leung, is a completely different character named Xu Wenwu. But for some the connection persists.

    "Chinese audiences cannot accept a prejudiced character from 100 years ago is still appearing in a new Marvel film," the Beijing-based film critic Shi Wenxue told the Global Times, a state-backed nationalist tabloid.

    Liu, 32, who emigrated to Canada with his parents in the 1990s, has also drawn public ire over past comments critical of his country of birth.

    In a 2016 Twitter post, he described Chinese government censorship as "really immature and out of touch."

    The next year, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that has since been taken down, Liu described China as a "third world" country where people were "dying of starvation" when he and his parents left. A screenshot of his comments has circulated on Weibo, a popular social networking platform in China, with one user commenting: "Then why does he play a Chinese character?"

    Michael Berry, director of the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies, said Liu's comments had been "taken out of context and politicized."

    "Once a cyberattack is waged against a film or individual in China, there are usually a series of talking points that are manufactured and then leveraged to take advantage of rising nationalist sentiment," he said.

    'Reclaiming our culture'

    The anger over Liu's comments echoes that of an earlier episode involving Chloé Zhao, the Beijing-born director of "Nomadland," who made history this year when she became the first woman of color to win the Academy Award for best director.

    "Nomadland" had been scheduled for a limited mainland release, but then a 2013 interview with Filmmaker magazine resurfaced in which Zhao described China as "a place where there are lies everywhere." She was targeted by online commenters who accused her of smearing the nation, and the film was never shown.

    "Eternals," a coming Marvel film directed by Zhao, could also be denied a release date in mainland China.

    Berry said the treatment of Liu and Zhao was a "great tragedy," describing them as China's "best hope for better cross-cultural understanding between China and the West."

    Many moviegoers elsewhere in the region have celebrated "Shang-Chi" for promoting that understanding.


    Officials have not said why "Shang-Chi" has no release date, and the propaganda department of China's ruling Communist Party, which regulates the country's film and TV industry, did not respond to a request for comment. Courtesy of Marvel
    Adrian Hong, 22, a student who has seen the movie twice in Hong Kong, which has its own film regulator, said it spoke volumes about the "beauty and grace of Chinese culture."

    "The beauty of martial art, the concept of yin and yang, the incredible mythical creatures all add to the film," he said.

    Some commenters on Weibo have also questioned the mainland government's apparent decision not to show the film.

    "Why do some people say 'Shang-Chi' offends China?" one user asked. "The movie doesn't offend China, but promotes traditional Chinese culture instead."

    For Tse, the actor and writer, "Shang-Chi" is all the more important because of the rampant anti-Asian racism, discrimination and violence unleashed by the pandemic.

    "This is a pushback for all the Asian hate crimes against us. It's an answer to all the bigots who have been against us for decades," he said. "'Shang-Chi' is us reclaiming our culture. It says globally, culturally, this is a new tide of history."

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  9. #399
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    Battle bests Bond

    China’s ‘Battle at Lake Changjin’ beats James Bond at box office with $203 million
    “No Time to Die,” the latest movie in the James Bond franchise, made $119 million at the global box office last weekend.

    Moviegoers arrive to watch “The Battle At Lake Changjin" on Saturday, in Wuhan, China.Getty Images
    Oct. 5, 2021, 2:30 AM PDT / Updated Oct. 5, 2021, 3:13 AM PDT
    By Variety
    China’s “The Battle at Lake Changjin” was the highest grossing film anywhere in the world over the past weekend, with a $203 million haul.

    That score was fractionally lower than the combined total earned by “No Time to Die” ($119 million in international markets) and by “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($90.2 million in North America).

    The film was the far away winner in mainland China, where it was released on Thursday, a day ahead of the October 1, National Day holiday. Over four days on release, it earned $234 million, according to consultancy Artisan Gateway.

    Additional data from local provider Ent Group showed that “Battle” enjoyed a massive 157,000 screenings per day and was watched by 25.5 million ticket buyers between Friday and Sunday.

    That put it ahead of “My Country, My Parents,” which earned $70.6 million over the weekend proper and a “Venom”-like $90.4 million total over four days.

    Both titles are examples of the patriotic triumphalism that has come to typify the Chinese box office since it re-opened, post pandemic in July last year, and both capitalize on the sentiment stirred up around the annual celebrations of the country’s birth, some 72 years ago.


    ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ was the highest grossing film anywhere in the world over the past weekend, with a $203 million haul.Getty Images
    “Changjin” earned $12.9 million of its total from Imax giant screens, making it the third biggest Imax opening weekend of all time behind sci-fi title “The Wandering Earth” and Chinese New Year comedy “Detective Chinatown 3.”

    Made with a production budget reported to be over $200 million, the film boasts three of Greater China’s top directors: Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark and Dante Lam.

    It is an epic war film praising the triumphs of Chinese soldiers fighting American-led United Nations forces in the early days of the Korean War (1950-1953). China portrays its involvement in the war as an act of self-defense and one of support for North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. In Chinese, it is called the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea.

    The film was produced by Bona Film Group and stars Wu Jing, star and director of the blockbuster “Wolf Warrior” war films, and pop idol turned actor Jackson Yee. (Wu also stars in and is credited as one of four co-directors on “My Country, My Parents”.)

    In a very distant third place, Chinese-made animation “Dear Tutu: Operation T-Rex” earned $3.5 million over three days.

    Artisan Gateway shows the weekend aggregate to have been $295 million or some RMB1.9 billion.

    That advances the year-to-date box office in China to $5.31 billion, a figure that is 27 percent below the same point in pre-pandemic 2019. Over the seven day National Holiday period in 2019, box office takings reached RMB4.5 billion.
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  10. #400
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    Changjin & Be Somebody

    Nov 21, 2021 11:10pm PT
    China Box Office: ‘Be Somebody’ Powers up Weekend as ‘Lake Changjin’ Is Poised for Record

    By Patrick Frater

    Maoyan Pictures
    Crime comedy film “Be Somebody” expanded its box office take by 20% in its second weekend of release in China and joined in a 49% surge in nationwide gross revenues.

    Nationwide box office climbed from $43.1 million in the previous weekend to $64.3 million between Friday and Sunday. For all that, China’s year to date box office haul is now 26% below that of pre-COVID 2019.

    Staying on top of the chart for a second session, “Be Somebody” earned $23.9 million over the weekend, according to data from Artisan Gateway. That gives it a 10-day total of $60.3 million.

    The movie directed by Liu Xunzi Mo is a send-up of crime drama tropes, making fun of the genre through the story of a group of filmmakers trying to please a wealthy patron by creating a sufficiently blood-thirsty crime thriller when things begin to go awry in the mansion where they are cloistered to work on the project. It stars Zheng Yin (“Goodbye Mr. Loser”), Deng Jiajia, Yu Entai, and Yang Haoyu (“The Wandering Earth”). It was produced by Maoyan Pictures.

    In second place with a strong $20.2 million opening weekend was “The Door Lock,” a suspense horror film about a woman living alone in a big city. Produced by Hengye Pictures, the film is a Chinese remake of a 2018 Korean film of the same title. The Korean film was itself a remake of a 2011 Spanish film “Sleep Tight,” but told from a different perspective. The Chinese retread stars Bai Baihe, Adam Fan (aka Fan Chengcheng) and Cici Wang.

    Third place over the weekend belonged to Chinese-made war film “Railway Heroes,” which earned $9.6 million over the weekend. Produced by Huayi Bros., the film is directed by Yang Feng (“The Coldest City”) and stars the evergreen Zhang Hanyu in a WWII tale of Chinese volunteers who band together to destroy Japanese military supply lines.

    The total for “Heroes” is modest compared with that of “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” the Korean War-set actioner that placed fourth over the weekend with an incremental take of $3.8 million. The weekend take lifts its mainland Chinese cumulative since Sept. 30 to $888 million. That score is now the biggest by any film this year, overtaking Chinese New Year breakout hit “Hi, Mom.”

    Local data sources, quoting box office in Chinese currency, also put “The Battle at Lake Changjin” within RMB3 million ($489,000) of the RMB5.689 billion achieved by China’s all-time, all-comers box office record holder “Wolf Warriors II” in 2017.
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