Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their whacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
Is There a Hollywood Future Without China?
What does the current U.S.-China relations instability mean for Hollywood? What does it mean for “Chinawood”? The pandemic has certainly played a role in the entertainment business both on the homefront and abroad. But what other factors have led to the Hollywood-Chinawood split, and is there any hope for reconciliation?
In the 1990s, the U.S. had a monopoly on the Chinese film market. Filmmakers, such as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, wanted to change that and produced local genre films that were more commercially viable. Suddenly, domestic Chinese productions started getting high box office revenues. By the early 2000s, China modernized its movie industry using Hollywood resources, and the two countries started working together to build a mutually beneficial motion picture industry. According to an article in the East Asia Forum by Wendy Su, an associate professor at the Media and Cultural Studies Faculty at the University of California, by the first half of 2017, “Chinese capital funded 25 percent of Hollywood exports to China.”
Then politics got involved. The trade war affected the relationship as well. Republicans were upset that Hollywood chose to “kowtow” to Beijing. And then there’s the industry itself as co-productions such as Disney’s 2020 remake of Mulan caused controversy because it was filmed, at least partially, in China’s Xinjiang Province, where Beijing is purported to be committing human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims.
Another barrier to Chinese capital entering the U.S. market is the bilateral tensions across the industry. According to Su, China’s ban of Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland is “sending a negative signal to overseas filmmakers.” In fact, “They are discouraged from seeking collaboration with China or expecting box office success in a market which is vulnerable to tides of nationalism and geopolitical tensions.”
But that’s not all. East Asia Forum said the Chinese audience’s taste had also changed. In 2020, during the pandemic, China outpaced the U.S. and became the world’s biggest movie box office. The publication explained:
“Imported movies now account for only about a sixth of China’s total box office — a nearly 55 per cent decrease year-on-year — with China’s homemade movies outperforming Hollywood imports like The Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984 and Mulan. An executive at one of Beijing’s leading distributors claims that ‘the whole culture has changed.’”
The fascination with American cinema is not as great in China as it was 20 years ago: The Chinese have turned to homegrown movies. Su explained:
“The failure of the United States to control the pandemic has also greatly disillusioned the Chinese audience, shattering their pre-existing good faith in the US system. At the same time, their obsession with US movies, culture and values has diminished.”
But all is not yet lost. America’s talent with special effects is still a hot commodity. “The latest market success of Fast and Furious 9, Godzilla vs Kong, the nostalgic re-release of old Hollywood imports Avatar and Lord of the Rings, and the Chinese audience’s enthusiastic viewing of Friends: The Reunion testify to the lingering influence and glamour of Hollywood movies in China,” Su pointed out.
Cheers And Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinseltown.
Cusack Goes Nuclear on America and Boeing
Actor John Cusack took to Twitter in an angry tirade, saying America is “fu—ng awful – full of cowards and corporate whores.” He seemed to be targeting Republicans and the aerospace company Boeing. “I was at a ballpark last night,” he said, “and they did their support the troops ad – that conflate Boeing with troops serving – while supporting the gop – that means funding the insurrection – anti-democratic forces – the opposite of what they claim to support – ‘US freedom.’” He went on to say that Boeing was okay with overturning elections and “denying the right to vote to its black and brown service members.”
Meghan McCain Calls Harris a ‘Moron’
On an episode of The View, Meghan McCain had some harsh words for the vice president. During a panel discussion about the border crisis with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and comedian Michelle Buteau, McCain questioned Kamala Harris’ unwillingness to actually go to the border and her competence in general. “I thought she [Harris] sounded like a moron when she was talking to Lester Holt,” McCain said. “Her nervous laugh is making me nervous that she doesn’t know what she’s doing.”
Perry and Bloom: We Lost our Right to Vote
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are catching heat for their one-minute ad promoting the For the People Act, which the GOP blocked during the procedural vote on June 22. In the skit, the pair represent a couple from the future, reaching out to the past to beg people to fight for the right to vote. The year is 2055, and voters from 2021 are at fault for the loss of this constitutional right, according to the ad.
Andy Biggs (R-AZ) had a few words for the real-life couple and their message:
“Yet again, more celebrities promoting legislation they most likely haven’t even read. Everyday Americans are tired of the fake virtue signaling from out-of-touch personalities who are high on star-power and kowtow to deranged Hollywood wokism. They should spend more energy building a backbone than acting on fear of being canceled.”
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.