Hollywood’s relationship with China has been on the rocks lately. Studios understand how important the global box office is to the success of their films, and one of the most important box offices happens to be located in China. But, due to tough censorship, many Hollywood films including Disney films, haven’t been able to satisfy the Chinese market. 

The American stories that are sent over to China have to go through the Communist Party’s censors to get approval to be shown in the country. Unfortunately, Hollywood has had trouble getting its films approved for Chinese theatrical releases as the country’s nationalism grows.

Now, China has asked Hollywood to improve the quality of their stories for Chinese audiences. 

'Top Gun Maverick' VFX shots'Top Gun: Maverick'Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bloomberg reported that Sun Yeli, the vice minister of the Communist Party central committee’s publicity department, said, “We hope the quality of American films can continue to be improved on the basis of respecting our culture, customs, and audience behavior.” 

If the U.S. decides to keep making films that the does not meet the expectations of China, Yeli said, “We will import from whichever countries that make better films and films that are more suitable for the taste of the Chinese audience.”

This is the first that a high-level Chinese official has hinted at why the country has drastically pulled back from accepting American films.

Hollywood’s market share plunged to record lows last year as China moves to curb Western influence. 

As one of the world’s largest movie markets, China has been an important source of revenue for Hollywood. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood films make up 48.2%  of China’s box office revenue. However, the Chinese Communist Party has left American projects on the shelf in favor of patriotically themed Chinese pro. 

The nationalistic wave of the Chinese public has boosted "main melody films," a genre unique to the Chinese industry that refers to quasi-propagandistic movies that embody the ideologies of the Chinese Communist Party, over the mega-blockbusters imported from Hollywood.

“The recent state-backed production focused on main melody films, which extol communist values, adding a layer of uncertainty for all non-main melody product, including both Chinese-language products as well as imports that include the major U.S. studios,” Rance Pow, president of Artisan Gateway, told the Hollywood Reporter. 

Main melody films have gained popularity in China over Hollywood mega-budget blockbusters'The Battle at Changjin Lake'Credit: Distribution Workshop/CMC Pictures

Hollywood has already made tweaks to its stories to make it into Chinese theaters. As China warns Hollywood to make films that appeal to a wider, international audience, the U.S. film industry has to figure out how it will adjust to pass the newer and stricter censors. 

Will Hollywood’s storytelling change to appeal to China’s request for American films that respect their culture and customs? There is a high chance the answer is yes if Hollywood studios want to continue to make the big bucks. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Source: Bloomberg