After it was discovered on social media that the Chinese version of the new children’s movie “Minions: The Rise of Gru” had an edited conclusion that backed the communist regime’s objectives, attention has once again been drawn to China’s extensive censorship efforts. The Chinese version of the movie differs from the international one. Instead of riding out into the sunset after a heist, one character gets sentenced to 20 years in jail and the other decides to give up his bad ways. In an apparent allusion to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping’s three-child policy, the latter then devotes his life to raising three children. Chris Fenton, a veteran Hollywood executive and the author of “Feeding the Dragon,” stated in an interview that it was unclear if Universal Pictures or the film’s Chinese distributor was responsible for the altered finale.
The number of foreign films that can be screened in domestic theatres are capped in China.Many Hollywood films that are aired in the country omit or alter important scenes. Some audiences have noticed that sometimes alternative endings depart significantly from the original.A pair of buildings are destroyed in the original finale of the iconic 1999 movie “Fight Club,” which Chinese viewers of the film discovered was missing from the version aired on domestic streaming service Tencent Video last year.As an alternative, a screenplay for the show stated the police “rapidly found out the whole scheme and apprehended all culprits, effectively stopping the bomb from exploding.”
Fenton asserted that regardless of the outcome, Universal would probably not have been motivated to defy the CCP. Most production studios have no option but to cooperate in order to have their movie released in China. Fenton claimed that there were probably two primary reasons for Universal to follow the restrictions. Access to the Chinese box office is the first motivation. The second is Beijing’s brand-new Universal Studios theme park. Five state-run enterprises own the remaining 70% of the park through the Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Company, with the other 30% owned by NBCUniversal’s Universal Parks & Resorts.
There was a silver lining to the affair, according to Fenton, in that the adjustments were only made to the Chinese distribution of the movie and that the dictatorship had not been successful in encouraging such changes to the worldwide release despite the attempt to make the movie into communist propaganda. The fact that some of these adjustments are essentially made exclusively for China, as opposed to other countries, is encouraging, according to Fenton. “I don’t think Hollywood is necessary self-censoring after a movie is created to appease Chinese censors for the international cut of the movies, in my opinion. Just the domestic cut is the purpose of it.
“That said, there’s still a lot of deliberate censoring in Hollywood, in terms of sensitive stuff that they know China is going to have issues with and maybe blacklist not only the studio, but all the people connected with the picture from the beginning,” says the author. Fenton said that Hollywood executives have long bowed to the CCP’s whims in order to get into the sizable Chinese market. He claimed that the CCP is now tightening its jaws around those businesses that are present in the nation and using their concepts and resources to support Chinese rivals.
Many individuals, including myself, started this U.S.-China collaborative business model with the idea of gaining access to a market that was often restricted to American goods and services, according to Fenton. Fenton stated, “We truly made our own worst enemies over there. In order to get access, we downplayed our convictions, ideals, and other characteristics that made us Americans and members of the democratic world. And I believe that many of us are now regretting it.
Fenton said that the risk-reward analysis for Western companies doing business in China is evolving, emphasizing the fact that China is not going to start opening again anytime soon. He claimed that under Xi’s leadership, Western businesses, particularly those in the cultural sectors like cinema, are being forced to capitulate more and more to Party dictates. Fenton declared that “[Xi] is governing that nation with an iron grip.” “He and his regime are becoming even more reclusive as a result of the widespread hostility toward them throughout the globe.”
“I just don’t see an opening just occurring that’s going to improve things for Hollywood or really any company that’s wanting to reach that market without doing some substantial kowtowing to that administration,” the author says.