Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 29th 2014 Contents A26
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Captain America and Spider-
Man are seeking to dominate the
Chinese box office in the coming
weeks, proving that US patriotic
superheroes can overcome
China s leeriness of foreign films
if they promise big money.
Chinese authorities, wary of
outside cultural influences and
competition, restrict the number
of foreign movies shown in the
mainland s cinemas to 34 each
Such big Hollywood block-
busters with action, adventure and
special effects tend to be Holly-
wood s most successful imports
to China. Only a handful of this
year s Oscar winners have been
shown so far in mainland China,
including the 3-D space odyssey
Gravity, highlighting how visual
spectacle translates better than
dialogue-driven drama. Oscar best
picture 12 Years A Slave and the
other leading Oscar-nominated
movie American Hustle, which in
the end went home empty-hand-
ed, haven t been shown here.
"The American movies that have
succeeded in this market in a big
way typically have special effects,
lend themselves to 3D and are
emotionally satisfying stories," said
Doug Belgrad, president of Colum-
bia Pictures, which is behind the
new Spider-Man film, in an inter-
view in Beijing.
"I think we re all learning about
the Chinese marketplace, it s grow-
ing so quickly and probably the
demographic make-up of the audi-
ence is changing, but it seems like
there s a young audience, romance
seems to work pretty well here,
adventure heroes, I think those are
ingredients that work well."
Hollywood is keen to get a big
slice of China s movie market,
which is now the world s second
biggest after the United States.
Movies increasingly contain China
elements to appeal to the audience,
such as Gravity s inclusion of a
Chinese space station and the cast-
ing of actress Fan Bingbing in a
Chinese version of Iron Man 3.
At a news conference in Beijing
this week to promote The Amazing
Spider-Man 2, which is scheduled
for release in mainland China on
May 4, two days after its US
release, the movie s producer was
asked whether the audience could
expect to see female characters
from China in sequels.
"Emphatically yes, you will see
that," responded Matt Tomach,
explaining that "China s an enor-
mous part of the movie-going
world and our community."
Zhao Zhiyong, an official at Bei-
jing city s bureau of press, publi-
cation, radio, film and television,
said that for a foreign film to be
successful in China, it should have
a story line that is "touching and
can arouse empathy."
"The film has to be able to pro-
duce strong emotion in Chinese
viewers, and this is related to cul-
tural understanding. This doesn t
mean that the film has to feature
Chinese actors or actresses, rather
it should know what Chinese are
interested in," said Zhao in an
interview last Thursday.
China s authoritarian govern-
ment strictly controls print media,
television, radio and the Internet.
Movies have to clear censorship,
and those that fail don t necessarily
know why, although China censors
according to political sensitivities
and cuts excessively sexual and
One surprise approval last year
was Quentin Tarantino s violent
slave-revenge movie Django
Unchained, which debuted only
to be pulled on opening day for
unspecified "technical reasons."
After undergoing an edit, it
returned a month later.
Robert Cain, a Los Angeles-
based producer and entertainment
industry consultant, said Holly-
wood movies that make it to China
are usually visual-effects driven,
action or animated movies that
appeal to young adults aged about
18-25---those films likely to make
the most money.
Captain America: The Winter
Soldier, involving the warrior sol-
dier dedicated to defending US
ideals such as truth, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness, is a Mar-
vel Studio title that is scheduled
for release in China on April 4.
China has led overseas box office
for every Marvel Studio title since
the 2012 release The Avengers,
according to information from The
Walt Disney Company, which
owns Marvel Entertainment.
"Apparently the authorities there
don t mind the rah-rah America
kind of movies," said Cain. "I think
maybe ten years ago the attitude
would have been a little bit dif-
ferent, but now I think they feel
the audience has matured and is
sophisticated enough to know
these are really just fantasy sto-
"Anything that remotely has a
sniff of being anti-China is a com-
pletely different story but that s
not the case with these superhero
movies, I think they just see them
as being big moneymaking fantasy
vehicles," he said.
A fan holds up posters during a publicity event
ahead of the April release of the movie
Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Beijing.
Chinese authorities, wary of outside cultural
influences and competition, restrict the
number of foreign movies shown in the
mainland's cinemas to 34 each year.
Actress Scarlett Johansson stands between Samuel L Jackson, left, and Chris
Evans during a publicity event last Monday ahead of the April release of their
movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Beijing.
Fans watch actress Scarlett Johansson, left in foreground, sign her autograph
during a publicity event last Monday, ahead of the April release of her movie
Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Beijing. AP PHOTOS
Hollywood action movies
enjoy boom in China
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