Hollywood gets a lesson on doing business with China

The first Iron Man film from 2008 made $15 million at the Chinese box office.

The new Iron Man 3, released this summer, did about $115 million.

Clearly, Hollywood wants (needs) growth like that to continue.

But it has to play by China’s censorship rules in order for that to happen.

Brad Pitt’s latest big-budget extravaganza, World War Z, made the fatal mistake of a plotline wherein an apocalyptic infection has its roots in China. According to the New York Post’s Kyle Smith, this detail sunk the film’s chances of making money – the Chinese won’t let it be seen:

Studio chiefs scrambled to recut “World War Z,” which originally contained a brief hint that the zombie outbreak began in China, to mollify Chinese state censors through whom all movies must pass. China has so far rejected the movie anyway. No one knows why, and the “World War Z” grosses in China stand at zero.

The zombie flick has been spun as a surprise hit that beat expectations, but it’ll need to take in something like $600 million to break even. So far it has earned $483 million. Think Brad Pitt wishes he had come up with a scene in which brave Chinese helped defeat the zombies?

In contrast, Iron Man 3 made the smarter, more soulless decision to go the other way – they added whole scenes featuring a heroic Chinese character that were only seen by audiences in China. Hence the boffo box office.

Smith likens this kind of placating and propaganda-lite to the deals cut by Hollywood studios with Hitler’s 1930’s Berlin – then a booming market for American films. Click over for the whole story:

Shanghaied (New York Post)

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