There is no denying the rising dominance of the Chinese market for Hollywood products. It has swiftly become the second-largest market in the world for international releases. Traditional patterns of releasing major blockbusters there last have shifted with Aquaman actually opening in China ahead of the rest of the world. It paid off, banking a whopping $298million while Avengers Endgame took $614million there. This is great for business but there are suspicions Hollywood filmmakers are starting to tailor tastes to the Chinese market, pulling back on more progressive themes or dropping storylines altogether. Censorship is heavy in the Middle Kingdom, but has it now started to extend to Hollywood?
After the new Top Gun Maverick trailer debuted, fans quickly spotted something had changed.
The film appears keen to stick to all the iconic tropes from the original. There are fast bikes, faster jets and Maverick sticking it to the man.
But what happened to his father’s treasured leather jacket? Two patches have been removed – and they just so happen to both be things that might cause an issue in China.
Media observer Mark MacKinnon posted a side by side image online with the comment: “There’s a new Top Gun movie coming out. And Maverick is wearing the same leather jacket – only this time it’s Communist Party of China-approved, so the Japanese and Taiwanese flag patches are gone.”
The patches represented Maverick’s father’s military service. Instead, the jacket sports two other patches.
The Hollywood Reporter went further, exploring the links between the makers of the movie and the communist superpower: “The suspicions have been heightened by the fact Tencent Pictures, the film division of Chinese internet giant Tencent, is a co-financier of the new Top Gun movie. Tencent also is a part-owner of David Ellison’s Skydance, which is co-producing the film with Paramount…
“Hollywood studios have for years avoided storylines, characters or even visual elements that could conceivably cause offence to either Beijing authorities or nationalistic segments of the Chinese audience.
“Given Beijing’s historically fraught relationship with both Taiwan and Japan, the reference to Washington’s military alliance with Taipei and Tokyo on Cruise’s original bomber jacket very well could catch the attention of Beijing censors and Chinese filmgoers, who are no less eagle-eyed in their scrutiny of film details than American fans appear to be.”
Tencent is now one of the biggest corporations in the world, dominating the Chinese gaming market and online portals. However, its apparent political and social autonomy was compromised in 2018 when a crackdown by the Chinese government censoring new games and apps wiped “more than $135 billion off its market value”.
Even so, perhaps the patch changes are just an updating of the jacket. It has been Maverick’s for decades now.
THR adds: “One of the new patched appears to say “85-86” along with the words “Indian Ocean Cruise,” which was where the dogfights in the original Top Gun took place.”
We all feel the need for speed some days, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions…?
TOP GUN MAVERICK IS OUT ON JULY 17, 2020
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