The live-action epic production of Disney studios “Mulan” received a modest reception in China on Friday, with the launch affected by mixed reviews, anti-COVID-19 measures imposed in cinemas and a government ban on media coverage in the context of international boycott calls. , reports Reuters. The film is based on a Chinese folk tale. The Disney studio, which relies on the success of the film “Mulan”, made with a budget of 200 million dollars, was criticized just days after the film’s debut on a streaming platform in North America and very shortly before its premiere. this feature film in Chinese cinemas.

An editorialist and several commentators on social media criticized the Disney group for its decision to film in the Chinese province of Xinjiang and for the thanks addressed to several departments of the Chinese regional government in the credits displayed at the end of this film. About 1 million ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang live in detention camps, which Chinese authorities have called “voluntary education centers.”

Criticism and censorship

The human rights issue for the Uyghur community adds to other political criticism of the film, including calls for a boycott after lead actress Liu Yifei voiced support for Chinese police last year. pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Chinese authorities have ordered major media outlets in the country not to publish reports of the film’s release following the backlash, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. With famous Chinese actors in the lead roles – Jet Li, Gong Li, Donnie Yen and Liu Yifei – the film “Mulan” was designed to please the Chinese public, the second most important market in the world, after the USA . However, it did not benefit from media coverage or from stars present on the red carpet at the premiere.

China’s online reviews seemed to be more concerned with the film’s plot than politics. The film, which has already been released in many markets via Disney’s streaming service, was rated 4.7 out of 10 on China’s popular social networking site Douban. Some netizens have pointed out historical inaccuracies, including the appearance in the film of some buildings that were erected hundreds of years after the action in the film.

China is the first major market to reopen its cinemas to full capacity.

The strategy of the Chinese Communist Party

Following an aggressive business strategy in the American film industry, the Chinese Communist Party set foot in Hollywood to expand its influence. From Iron Man 3 to Transformers 3, including Captain Phillips and Karate Kid, no movie in major California studios seems exempt from the Chinese imprint. Signs of the Chinese giant’s plans to control what it produces

Hollywood appeared several years ago, but today we are talking about a form of self-censorship.

Not on behalf of any American political party, but rather to thank the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), hoping to conquer the Middle Kingdom market. Modified versions to suit the Chinese regime are generally shown in American cinemas as well.

Today, Chinese companies pay for key companies in the American film industry, and many American directors work with Chinese companies on their own, working directly with the CCP’s offices to censor and edit their films. The CCP is gaining control of what Hollywood can and cannot say.

The Chinese leadership’s stated desire to influence Hollywood goes beyond mere interest in censorship and profit. In the 1990s, American professor Joseph Nye coined the term soft power to describe a new era in international relations, dominated by American leadership. In the eyes of the Chinese authorities, this concept is proving to be even more profitable than censorship or profit. A cultural war is thus declared by Chinese leaders, and their main target is the American and Western public.

beginnings

In 1994, the Chinese Communist Party authorized the screening of The Fugitive with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in Chinese cinemas. The film is a huge success, arousing the party’s interest in China, as well as Hollywood. But not for the same reasons. Currently, it is impossible to broadcast a film in China without the approval of SAPPRFT, a Communist Party body that has absolute power over non-Chinese producers who want to broadcast their productions in China. In fact, Chinese cinema was so constrained by the directives of “bureaucratic experts” that it became boring. So boring that the only way to make it interesting was to get Americans and other Westerners to share their trade secrets, forcing them to create co-productions if they wanted to show their films in China.

Technology transfer

But how do you force their hand? Officially, the country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. But, in reality, protectionism and censorship prevent the dissemination of foreign productions. Only about 20 films a year could enter the huge market of 1.43 billion people. In order to make a short-term profit, Western filmmakers are making big concessions because China is a potential market four times larger than the United States.

For a foreign film to be shown in China, there are only 3 methods.

The first is the introduction of the quota of foreign films authorized by the party. In 2012, this rose to 34 titles. However, US producers get only 25% of revenue. The second method is to sell the broadcasting rights at an extremely disadvantageous fixed rate. These films are subject to a different rating (between 30 and 40 titles per year). But the operation is not profitable for Hollywood.

The third is the co-production of films with Chinese companies. In this case, the foreign company can receive 50% of the revenue generated by the broadcast.

The sequels to Avatar will be co-produced by James Cameron’s company and the Chinese companies Tianjin North Film Group and Tianjin Hi-Tech Holding Group.

In fact, American producers are not only financially enriching the Party, but are voluntarily participating in a technology transfer that harms them in the long run.

The more arbitrary things are, the more foreign producers voluntarily submit to censorship because of greed.

Among the changes related to China’s influence in Hollywood movies, we mention the introduction of Chinese stars in movies, such as:

Looper (2012): Xu Qing

Iron Man 3 (2013): Fan Bingbing şi Wang Xueqi

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): Fan Bingbing

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014): Li Bingbing

What else fell to the Party’s censorship:
• In Mission Impossible 3 (2006), a scene filmed in Shanghai had to be removed because the clothes were seen drying in the window.

• In Skyfall (2012), a scene in which a Chinese guard is killed was removed in the party-authorized version.

• In Top Gun (1986), an aerial combat scene was removed because it showed American military dominance.

• In the trailer for the new Top Gun: Maverick (2020), the Japanese and Taiwanese flags that initially appear on the jacket are replaced with a communist flag.

• In World War Z (2013), the origin of the virus is no longer from China, but from Russia.

There are also movies that are not allowed because they spread “harmful” ideas. Captain Phillips (2013) was not released in Chinese cinemas because it describes the importance of individuals.

According to Professor Ying Zhu, Chinese censors act as an ideological police force in the world, dictating what can be seen and what is not in Hollywood movies and making any critical portrayal of China taboo. Thus, the heroine of Gravity (2013) returns to Earth due to the Chinese space installations. Many will say that all this is just an accumulation of minor details. In fact, this is a very effective way to convince the masses at home and abroad of the harmlessness of the communist regime.

Ifinancial infiltration

In addition to censorship, China also uses financial strategies to have a say in Hollywood. This infiltration technique is similar to that used in the video game and communications industry. Chinese companies invest in American companies before buying them completely.

In 2011, Chinese influence in Western culture industries was a topic promoted in the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party by Zhang Lihua, a professor at Tsinghua University and close to billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group Corp.

In 2012, Wanda acquired AMC Entertainment Group, the largest film company in the United States for $ 2.6 billion. Wanda is effectively becoming the world’s largest operator in this sector.

In 2015, Wanda bought Starplex Cinemas, another group that manages American cinemas, for $ 1.1 billion. The ambition goes further, as Wanda also acquired the Australian group Hoyts in 2015.

In 2016, it was the turn of Europe, through the acquisition of the English company Odeon & UCI Cinemas for the modest amount of 1.2 billion dollars. This English company is the largest theater operator in Europe. In a rather perverse way, Western entertainment feeds the Chinese Communist Party with money. In a sense, Hollywood is also funding China.

Wanda also bought production studios such as Legendary Entertainment, the producer of the Batman trilogy. The latest film produced by the studio is Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019). Legendary passed into Chinese hands in January 2016 for $ 3.5 billion. And to make sure that Western cinema rewards the right movies, Wanda also wanted to buy Dick Clark Productions in 2016. This is the production company that manages the Golden Globe Awards. It costs only a billion dollars. Another party member, Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, also started the race to buy world cinema.

In 2015, he slowly began a partnership with Paramount to release the film Mission Impossible. In 2016, he struck a deal with Steven Spielberg and set up a stake in his production company Amblin Partners. In addition to Wanda and Alibaba, other Chinese companies are trying to buy Hollywood. Thus, Huahua Media wants to acquire 25% of Paramount. But the agreement has not been finalized.

Hollywood-style communist propaganda

Thanks to its years of forced transfer of technology and co-production with the West, the Party now produces propaganda films according to all the codes of Western action films, in which the Chinese hero fights and defeats the Westerners. The most striking example is the Wolf Warrior series (2015 and 2017), where the Chinese super soldier saves the world from bad white men. Thus, Hollywood has become a propaganda tool for China. But he’s not even aware of it. Through this strategy, China manages to keep its people away from dangerous ideas of freedom and at the same time get rich, send messages to border countries about its expansionist ambition and mimic a democracy through its billionaire investors in the eyes of less attention-grabbing countries. .