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The Washington Post published an op-ed Tuesday making the case that the success of Tom Cruise’s new “Top Gun: Maverick” movie demonstrates that Hollywood does not need China to be financially successful.
The article, written by Post contributing columnist Sonny Bunch, asserts that the movie’s recent box office success “could represent a tipping point in Hollywood’s relationship to China. The op-ed titled, “‘Top Gun: Maverick’ proves Hollywood doesn’t need China.”
“It’s about time American studios recalibrated their priorities to be less reliant on Chinese censors and Chinese moviegoers,” Bunch wrote.
Bunch notes that ‘Top Gun’ was a hit “without making a single penny in China.”
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“The $300 million worldwide opening puts the picture roughly three-quarters of the way to profitability in just four days in theaters. That’s a big number by any measure these days; importantly, for our purposes here, the Paramount Pictures- and Skydance Media-produced picture hit that mark without making a single penny in China.”
Tencent, a Chinese company, originally helped finance the movie. Hence, in its early stages, a trailer was released which removed the Japanese and Taiwanese flags from the protagonist’s uniform. However, after Tencent withdrew from the project, Bunch notes that the flags returned.
“Having lost Chinese funding and being uncertain of receiving a Chinese release, someone somewhere decided the juice was no longer worth the squeeze and undid the vandalism to Mav’s jacket,” he wrote. “In addition to simply making aesthetic sense, the move also earned the picture some goodwill with American audiences who have grown tired of having their blockbusters defaced by Chinese censors.”
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Bunch describes “Top Gun” as “just the latest film to achieve box-office success after rejecting Chinese demands in exchange for a run in the nation’s theaters,” and points to the popular “Spiderman: No Way Home” movie’s refusal to take out the Statue of Liberty from the film.
Bunch also notes that Marvel’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness”, which was not released in China, grossed nearly $900 million worldwide.
“We’re starting to see what a post-China future looks like for Hollywood: not that different, but a little more independent,” Bunch wrote.
He argues that continued progress in this direction will empower America’s movie studios to “reclaim the moral high ground as champions of American values at home and the outlaw quality that makes Hollywood a beacon in unfree societies.”
“This isn’t to say that the Chinese box office will cease to play a fiscal role in America’s dream factory. Universal is undoubtedly excited that the latest “Jurassic World” has already secured a release date in China, and it’s hard to imagine the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies, also from Universal, failing to receive a release there, as that series is practically built on a global, pan-national appeal.”
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Christ Fenton, a Hollywood executive and author of “Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, and American business”, recently said that the ‘Top Gun’ movie is “a fantastic case study in what we could do by protecting freedom of creativity.”
“In the case of Tom Cruise and top gun, there was actually a very sensitive flag, the Taiwanese flag along with the Japanese flag on the back of that jacket which Tencent one of the original financiers which is a Chinese company said ‘hey that’s sensitive we need to remove that’ and when Paramount and Tom Cruise stood up to that, Tencent backed out of financing that movie, and here we are $300 million later without the Chinese market involved, I think it’s a fantastic case study in what we could do by protecting freedom of creativity which is something that Hollywood is supposed to stand for.”