By Alyssa Rosenberg
The Hollywood Reporter observes that Hollywood, the Chinese film industry, and China’s central government would all like to see more movies that are co-produced by Chinese and American companies. The biggest obstacle to cooperation? Finding movies that will play in both Chinese and American markets, and that can make it past Chinese censors.
Obviously, script approval is a big deal. The MPAA is on record as saying the amount of time it takes to get a script approved in China scares off American investors. And the restrictions can be, to say the list, kind of odd. China recently banned time-travel movies on the grounds that they’re insufficiently respectful to historical figures (no Bill and Ted reboots for China, I guess!).
But finding the overlapping bit of the Ven diagram of Chinese and American tastes isn’t easy either. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which grossed $128 million in the United States, did only $85 million internationally, including in China. Romantic comedies are supposed to be reasonably big in China, but Disney’s remake of High School Musical for Chinese markets flopped. Chinese box office data isn’t reliably available in real time (the tracking sites like The-Numbers and Box Office Mojo seem to get their numbers through a variety of back-end sources, including the proprietors of streaming horror-movie sites), so it’s hard to see Chinese and American audiences reacting simultaneously to a mix of movies. And it would be hard to see that given even more reliable data, since China only accepts 20 American releases a year, so it’s hard to know if Battle: Los Angeles would be as popular in China as it is right now given other alternatives.
It’s possible that Nanjing Heroes, an upcoming Christian Bale-as-hunky-priest-is-a-hero-during-a-Japanese-massacre, will be the movie that hooks both American and Chinese audiences. Or the girl-learns-to-kick-ass-fairytale-rewrite that is Snow and the Seven. But until China accepts more foreign flicks, and until we’ve got more box office successes in both countries, we’re not going to have a good sense of what works on a massive scale in both markets. And that, not to mention the political complications of trying to navigate both the weirdness of the American market and the limitations of Chinese censorship, is going to make doing joint business hard.
Since Bob Greenblatt’s arrival at NBC, the network’s greenlit a number of comedy pilots with female stars. And now that word’s coming down that the network may be bringing in Tal Rabinowitz, who has been vice president for comedy at Sony (Greenblatt picked up The Big C, which she developed, while she was there), to head up its comedy programming. Together, these seem like signs that the network is doing something unusual: doubling down and investing in a brand centered around funny women. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, and misfires like Perfect Couples are illustrations of it’s possible to go badly wrong, or boringly typical, in show’s about women’s lives, women’s hopes, women’s desires. But women like Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation are part of the future of comedy, as are women like Annie in Bridesmaids (about which more to come), and Annie Edison on Community, and I’d love to see NBC make a crazy gamble on figuring out the ways into that future. Maybe if they throw enough things on the wall, the entire enterprise will start to stick.
Well, Another Earth is more morally contemplative than it is scientifically imaginative (knowing there’s an identical earth out there, with identical people, doesn’t exactly open up new pathways in scientific development the same way first contact with another sentient species does unless they got there in entirely different ways than we did, and then it’s hard to imagine that they’d be the same as we are, really, but that’s a side issue). But it still looks dreamy, and powerful, and I’m glad the main person doing that moral contemplation is a woman, rather than a dude who has to get his girlfriend up a mountain or something (not that Deep Impact is really terrible, it’s just kind of typical):
I do wonder what the broader implications of having a double would be, though. Does knowing that there’s someone out there living your life make it less meaningful? Make you feel less alone? What are the implications of inevitability? What happens to your worlds if you decide to diverge?
By Alyssa Rosenberg*
Or at least, his retirement home. I’m doing some digging into Republican candidates’ positions on and involvement in the arts, so on a whim, I Nexised “Donald Trump donated.” Turns out the Donald ponied up $25,000 for the post-Katrina restoration of Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’s retirement estate on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Given Haley Barbour’s decision not to run, and how some of theless-charming things he’s said about race played into his viability as a candidate, I can’t imagine this particular donation is going to play into Trump’s already-bizarre candidacy. To be fair to the Donald, he apparently made the donation at the recommendation of Richard Moe, then the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Trump, of course, got substantial tax breaks by donating an easement on his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, to the Trust. (I’m not sure what he got out of donating space to the Rainbow PUSH coalition in the late 90s, but he did that, too. But then, Trump doesn’t have a record as a consistent, much less charitable, donor.)
*Since people have asked: I’m ThinkProgress’s resident culture nerd. Until some technical things get straightened out, I’ll be blogging here and on the ThinkProgress mainpage.
I was watching The Girlfriend Experience, and it struck me that it might have been a more interesting movie had it been primarily about the relationships between the trainer and his clients than the relationship between the escort and hers. The vulnerabilities of men and women in relationships, and the agonies about whether those relationships are real, or equitable, or sustainable, are well-trod territory, and the injection of money into it doesn’t actually change things that much. The relationship between men and their bodies seems like much less-plumbed territory. Even in movies or television shows where schlubby guys get hot girls, the anxiety about their looks is generalized rather than specific, it’s less about if-my-breasts-were-a-size-bigger-if-the-profile-of-my-nose-was-slimmer-if-my-feet-were-smaller the way it is for women than it is a general sense of resignation, and when good things happen, it’s a matter of luck rather than reform. I’d be curious to see a more detailed, uncomfortable movie about that.