The Hollywood Reporter (THR) might be sensing a shift in the tide as they readily exposed Disney’s China agenda in a very lengthy article discussing the relationship between Hollywood and China.
The article, written by Patrick Brzeski and Tatiana Siegel, opens up with outing Disney’s China agenda by publishing part of an email sent to members of the press instructing them to describe Nomadland director Chloé Zhao as Chinese or a Chinese National.
According to THR, a Disney executive emailed, “Please note in your ongoing coverage of Nomadland that Chloé Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker.”
The executive added, “You may accurately refer to her as Chinese or a Chinese National.”
And this apparently wasn’t the first time they had done so, Brzeski and Siegel claim, “For months, the studio had been making clandestine efforts to avoid agitating the Chinese Communist Party when it came to Zhao.”
In fact, they report that sources tell them that a Disney publicist through Searchlight “persuaded the small, New York based Filmmaker magazine to remove a quote from a 2013 Zhao profile in which the budding auteur explained the inspiration for her first feature film, Songs My Brother Taught Me.”
The quote in question read, “It goes back to when I was a teenager in China, being in a place where there are lies everywhere.”
She added, “You felt like you were never going to be able to get out. A lot of info I received when I was younger was not true, and I became very rebellious toward my family and my background. I went to England suddenly and relearned my history. Studying political science in a liberal arts college was a way for me to figure out what is real. Arm yourself with information, and then challenge that too.”
That quote led to immense backlash among Chinese social media users. So much so that the Chinese Community Party (CCP) banned The Oscars due to Zhao’s comments.
Not only did they ban The Oscars, but they also scrubbed Zhao’s victory from Chinese social media websites and the Chinese controlled internet.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “Two state media reporters told The Wall Street Journal that they had received orders from China’s propaganda ministry not to report on Ms. Zhao’s victory, despite what they described as her status as a Chinese national, because of ‘previous public opinion.'”
But it’s not just The Oscars where Zhao is facing backlash. There is a report from Variety that Zhao’s upcoming Eternals movie may get banned from China after the movie was left off of a CCTV6 China Movie Channel listing of the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 films.
Both Eternals and Shang-Chi were left off the list. They did include release dates for eight other MCU films though.
Variety’s Rebecca Davis explained, “The omission might seem small, but its significance lies in its provenance: the channel is under the jurisdiction of China’s powerful propaganda department, which has the final word on film approvals.”
If the film is banned from China it would mean a huge loss in box office gross for Disney.
For example, according to The-Numbers, Avengers: Endgame earned $629 million in China alone. Infinity War earned $359 million. Captain Marvel earned $153.8 million, Black Panther brought in $104.6 million, and Ant-Man and The Wasp grossed $120.7 million. Spider-Man: Far From Home brought in $205.4 million.
That means the last six Marvel Cinematic Universe films released in China grossed $1.572 billion.
Not only would they lose possibly an over $100 million grossing film, but Disney also has to cater to China because of their park business.
THR claims, “Disney never weighed in on Hong Kong nor the substance of the situation in Xinjiang — but if it had, precedent dictates that the lights inside the Magic Kingdom at its vastly larger and more lucrative Shanghai Disney Resort would have gone dark instantly.”
But as THR notes that is the risk that comes with cooperating with the communist Chinese. In fact, Disney is probably lucky they still have parks under their control that are located in China.
China shut down all broadcasting of NBA games for a year after Houston Rocket’s general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong by tweeting, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
And Disney was previously barred from China after they produced Kundun that showcased the People’s Republic of China’s oppression of Tibet and the exile of the Dalai Lama.
The Washington Post reported back in November 1997 that the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television issued a memo that stated, “In order to protect Chinese national overall interests, it has been decided that all business cooperation with these three companies to be ceased temporarily without exception.”
Those three companies were Disney, MGM/United Artists and Columbia TriStar.
However, by 1998 then Disney CEO Michael Eisner apologized for the creation of the film. PEN reports Eisner stated, “The bad news is that the film was made; the good news is that nobody watched it.”
He added, “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”
Not only can the CCP shut down access to China, but they routinely use business partnerships in order to extract knowledge from American companies.
THR explains, “Beijing deployed its standard playbook for playing catch-up in a high-sophistication industry dominated by the West: Crack open the door to the local market just wide enough to entice experienced foreign firms to enter into partnerships and joint ventures with local companies — required in many sectors under Chinese law in exchange for market access — with the ultimate aim of facilitating rapid knowledge transfer to the Chinese side while limiting the foreign players’ potential dominance.”
It’s clear Disney has sold out to communist China. They publicly thanked the CCP controlled authorities in Xinjiang, which have been implicated in the genocide of the Uyghur Muslims, as part of the credits in their recent live-action Mulan remake.
Even Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige admits the upcoming Shang-Chi film is to cater to China.
In a recent interview with Men’s Health he stated, “It’s about having a foot in both worlds. In the North American world and in China. And Simu fits that quite well.”
While Disney continues to cater to China, they appear to be losing the pulse in America. Pew Research reports that “roughly nine-in-ten U.S. adults (89%) consider China a competitor or enemy, rather than a partner.”
In fact, “48% think limiting China’s power and influence should be a top foreign policy for the U.S., up from 32% in 2018.”
On top of that, “67% of Americans have ‘cold’ feelings toward China on a “feeling thermometer,” giving the country a rating of less than 50 on a 0 to 100 scale.”
They add that “the share who say they have ‘very cold’ feelings toward China (0-24 on the same scale) has roughly doubled from 23% to 47%.”
Maybe it’s time for Disney to start having an American agenda rather than a Chinese one, and if the current Disney leadership isn’t willing to do that then maybe the U.S. government should intervene.
American companies should start acting like they are American companies rather than attempting to describe themselves as global businesses that cater to the likes of the Chinese communists.