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Hollywood films look to appease growing market in China

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MUMBAI: A Hollywood studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer has digitally removed all Chinese villains from its action flick Red Dawn, which recently released in the United States, in order to avoid antagonising Beijing.

The plot of the film revolves around a Chinese invasion of America in which a hit squad of teenagers from a high school football team saves the day. When the authorities at MGM realised the storyline could offend Beijing - jeopardising the film’s chances of making it to the lucrative Chinese market - they digitally removed all references to China.

As a result the villains now belong to North Korean (in the movie) and all reference to the Chinese flag and symbols have been replaced with North Korean ones. The film is a remake of a 1984 Cold War film of the same name, which starred Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen where the Russians were shown as the invaders.

China is one of the fastest growing markets for Hollywood movies at nearly $1.5 billion. Moreover, the new Chinese president Xi Jinping is said to be a big fan of Hollywood war films.

DMG Entertainment owner Dan Mintz was quoted in the LA Times as saying that if the movie had gone out in its original form “there would have been a real backlash. It’s like being invited to a dinner party and insulting the host all night long. There’s no way to look good ... The film itself was not a smart move.” The company is a leading producer and distributor of movies in China.

In the past too, Beijing has stopped its business dealings with US studios which have criticised its government like the 1997 film Seven Years in Tibet starring Brad Pitt.

The latest James Bond movie Skyfall is currently not due for release in China either. The distributors of the movie are in negotiations with Beijing over the its release in the country owing to a part in the film that shows a former secret agent being tortured by the Chinese.

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