'Red Dawn' Tweaked to Please China

Monday, 21 Mar 2011 08:04 AM

By James Hirsen

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The government of China routinely stifles dissent, imposes censorship, and engages in human rights violations. But despite the oppressive environment and hardship that the Chinese government has created, the Chinese people have somehow managed to develop a healthy appetite for Western cinema, and the Chinese market is a huge one.

Hollywood, being the big biz that it is, must always be concerned with the bottom line, and that means getting the most profits it can for its products.

Consequently, one Hollywood studio has seen fit to significantly alter its remake of the 1984 Cold War cult classic, “Red Dawn.” Changes were made out of concern for the sensibilities of the Chinese government, which ultimately decides whether or not a movie makes it in onto the Chinese screen.

In the “Red Dawn” original, the villains of the flick happened to be Russian. In the remake, though, the script had the villains undergoing an ethnic transformation, one in which they eventually emerged as Chinese.

That’s not good for the Chinese market.

After the film had already been shot, MGM, mindful that the distribution of the movie in China could be detrimentally impacted, went about making a change to the ethnicity of the villains once again. The dastardly ones were converted into North Koreans.

Through the magic of digital technology, the studio was able to tweak the footage during post-production at a reported cost of less than $1 million.

It wasn’t really a difficult decision for the Hollywood executives since North Korea doesn’t provide Hollywood with significant economic opportunity.

The original movie starred the late Patrick Swayze, his iconic movie dance partner Jennifer Grey and, believe it or not, Charlie Sheen. All played U.S. teens fighting invading Soviets.

It’s staggering how in such a short time the international film market has changed so dramatically. Back in 2009 the decision came down to make the new “Red Dawn” bad guys Chinese. However, the Chinese market has grown to approximately $1.5 billion a year since then, and it’s one of the fastest growing movie markets in the world.

The Chinese government already sent a message when it disallowed the distribution of “The Dark Knight” because a villain in the flick was Chinese.

Pursuant to a recent World Trade Organization ruling, the Chi-coms are initiating a policy of allowing more foreign films into the country, and in the future, MGM would no doubt be pleased as punch to distribute franchise films such as the “James Bond” series.

Interestingly, writers are concerned that their choices of villainous characters are being whittled away at by autocratic world leaders and PC police alike.

Guess soon they’ll only be picking villains from countries that have bad box-office numbers.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for InternationalEsq.com. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood: www.youtube.com/user/NMHollywood

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