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June 01, 2021

The Hollywood Reporter: Fast and Furious 9 Box Office Falls 85% In China Due to Poor Reviews, John Cena Apology

I'm sorry, Hollywood.

Live by the CCP, die by the CCP.

Chinese filmgoers have hit the brakes on Justin Lin's F9. The Universal tentpole downshifted 85 percent in its second weekend, earning just $20.8 million compared to its $136 million roaring opening weekend.

After two laps, the Vin Diesel/John Cena action flick has totaled $185.3 million. That’s slightly ahead of where franchise spinoff Hobbs & Shaw was sitting at a similar point in its China run, but far weaker than the preceding franchise mainstays Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious, which topped out at $390.9 million in 2015 and $392.8 million in 2017, respectively. Chinese ticketing app Maoyan currently projects F9 to finish at $211.9 million -- certainly not a number to scoff at but far inferior to the franchise’s recent heights, especially since China’s theatrical market is back to full earning capacity (see the $825 million earned by local comedy hit Hi, Mom in February).

Via HeelVsBabyFace.

Last week, The Hollywood Reporter ran a long, long article noting that Hollywood is beginning to wonder what kind of hostile tyrannical Communist propaganda regime they've gotten into bed with, this time.

Disney hired a female Chinese director to helm its upcoming bomb "The Eternals" precisely to guarantee Chinese box-office. (Well, that and to virtue signal about diversity.)

Unfortunately, this female Chinese director was... honest about the shitty Communist tyranny that China is, and now China is talking about blocking The Eternal's release in the Middle Kingom.

"Please note in your ongoing coverage of Nomadland that Chloe Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker," an executive for Disney-owned Searchlight emailed members of the Hollywood press on March 4. "You may accurately refer to her as Chinese or a Chinese National."


For months, the studio had been making clandestine efforts to avoid agitating the Chinese Communist Party when it came to Zhao, who was born and raised in Beijing but attended high school in London and Los Angeles and college in Massachusetts and New York. The simple fact that she now lives in Ojai, California, was certain to irk the CCP and provoke China's notorious internet ultranationalists, whose M.O. is to aggressively scrutinize any Chinese artist who achieves significant success in the West -- searching for hints of disloyalty to the motherland.

Sources say that in late 2020, a Searchlight publicist persuaded the small, New York-based Filmmaker magazine to remove a quote from a 2013 Zhao profile in which the budding auteur explained the inspiration for her first feature film[:] "It goes back to when I was a teenager in China, being in a place where there are lies everywhere," she said. "You felt like you were never going to be able to get out. A lot of info I received when I was younger was not true, and I became very rebellious toward my family and my background. I went to England suddenly and relearned my history. Studying political science in a liberal arts college was a way for me to figure out what is real. Arm yourself with information, and then challenge that too."

Disney got a media company to cover up for Communist China. What a surprise.

But word about the quote had already reached China:

[A]rchived versions were unearthed in China shortly after Zhao s best director win at the Golden Globes, setting off a social media backlash that prompted Chinese authorities to cancel the local release of Nomadland in April and expunge most mentions of Zhao from the internet. The controversy reached its zenith with the Oscars being fully censored in China, just as a homegrown hero was capturing the film world's biggest prize.


The CCTV6 China movie channel recently aired the U.S. release dates for a number of upcoming films but omitted Eternals as well as Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

By the way, although Marvel greenlit this movie for the Chinese market, it too will probably not be welcomed in China. Because, while it stars a Chinese actor, he is Chinese-American. And the Chinese do not like that.

But you got in bed with China so eat it, Disney.

A point worth remembering: China doesn't let any foreigner into any of its markets. To be allowed in, you have to create a partner organization with Chinese citizens, who must control (if I recall correctly) at least 51% of the venture.

All of these movies are being released through 51% Chinese joint ventures.

And they're taking more of the take than any other foreign country demands.

The article goes on to note that through the Obama years, Americans treated China like California in the gold rush, and tripped over themselves to form Chinese-partnered companies there.

But now most of them are failing. Their sweet sweet American dollars have died in China, and will stay there.


At the same time that Hollywood's foothold in the Chinese market appears to be slipping, the reputational risks associated with the realities of doing business there are rapidly on the rise. While U.S. companies are increasingly taking principled stands on social issues ranging from voter disenfranchisement in Georgia to cases of police brutality throughout the country, Hollywood has remained mum when it comes to Chinese human rights issues.


All the while, even the most outspoken celebrities have said nothing about the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong or the forced internment of over a million of China's minority Muslims in the province of Xinjiang.

Last summer, PEN America published the explosive report "Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing," which detailed how the major studios and A-list directors increasingly are making decisions -- including cast, plot, dialogue and settings -- "based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials." Among the lowlights, Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange excised a Tibetan character from the comic books (and instead cast a white actress, Tilda Swinton) and Skydance/Paramount removed the Taiwanese flag from Tom Cruise’s flight jacket for its upcoming Top Gun: Maverick.

Oh right: Tibet is another country that it is forbidden to say exists.

Here comes the most important part of this article: China has co-opted Hollywood to turn it into a propaganda machine for the Chinese Communist machine, with the promise of untold fortunes.

They haven't delivered the fortunes.

But China has gotten its propaganda machine.


But as with all cases of self-censorship, the evidence is most apparent in what's missing in the aggregate: During a decade-plus period in which China has risen to the status of a hegemon in waiting, with its business interests and political influence extending to every corner of the world, the Hollywood studios have not created a single film, big or small, that depicts the country with a whiff of critique or even real-world nuance.

Critics, often academics, argue that China has cannily leveraged its market heft to co-opt Hollywood's global pop culture machine into effectively carrying the water for one of the country’s most important lines of strategic global messaging: that China's rise as a global superpower is a benign or stabilizing phenomenon. To the suggestion that Hollywood isn't in the business of art with an agenda, critics can take their pick of the dozens of films released in recent years offering direct critiques of the United States' own foreign policy and social justice failures...

But China will not allow Hollywood to offer the most nuanced critique of China.

Or even an acknowledgment that Taiwan and Tibet are countries.

And Hollywood continues playing along, all for the promise of money that will one day come, but never quite does.

The guys at Midnight's Edge speculate that the fact that Hollywood is now allowing/directing this piece to be written in an industry newspaper means that Hollywood is now trying to tell China they object to its terms.

But I doubt that. And even if they whine, so what? They will continue doing what their Chinese paymasters tell them to do.

Even if their Chinese paymasters are not paying them quite what they think they ought to be paid.

Razorfist discusses this, below.

If you want more Bad News for Hollywood -- Overlord DVD claims that his anonymous tipsters tell him that the Batman movie is so bad that executives are debating between releasing a stinker or putting another hundred million into it for expensive reshoots which might not actually fix the problems. A la Justice League.

That is just a rumor, as Overlord cannot confirm those claims.

I would like to think it's true.

In more Bad News for Hollywood, Disney's Cruella opened weakish at the box office with a take of only $7.7 million Friday night of Memorial Day weekend. $27 million through the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

digg this
posted by Ace at 06:27 PM

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