The Portrayal of China in Worldwide Film

The Portrayal of China in Worldwide Film

For most countries, especially the U.S, portraying China as a benevolent superpower and savior has become the rage. With China looking to become a large player in the film industry and even starting to outsell American and Canadian filmmakers, there’s money to be made by attracting Chinese audiences.

While the past often showed Chinese as the villains, sidekicks, and martial arts masters of the world, recent political events and the rising power of China’s movie-going industry has seen China change into the hero character.

This does lead to some problems, however, because despite the massive money making potential of team-ups between Chinese and United State companies the problems of Chinese media can get in the way.


China’s government goes have things in movies that cannot be shown to their audiences. These topics must not damage the integrity of China or national traditions, including negative portrayals of communism, Chinese leaders, and events in China’s history. For movies that either hint on or deal with these issues, problems can develop.

Certain movies have been forced to change their scripts or even the entire plot to accommodate China’s censorship laws, which is seen as a negative for many critics as sometimes two different versions of the film can be produced and sold to the two different countries.

Money Money Money

With China being such a big potential moneymaker and only allowing 34 foreign films each year to be screened by its board to screen in the country, many directors and producers are forced to make the tough choices to grab as much money as they can with the films that are projected to score well with Chinese audiences.

These self-editing moments for the funds they can bring in have been met with criticism about free speech and the power of the media, however, editing or not there is a knowledge that China is doing better in the film industry than American and Canadian moviegoers.

Tickets, please

With cinemas at the United States and Canada reaching their lowest attendance in 22 years, it might come as a surprise that the sales globally reached a record high, and most of that can be attributed to China playing U.S films and then giving a portion of their ticket sales to the U.S.

With more Chinese movie theaters being built and more Chinese moviegoers hungry for foreign films, the trend for foreign films hasn’t faded away and probably won’t, with several more big-budget films having larger and more profitable premiers in China.

What does it mean?

How filmmakers, producers, and editors react to the power of China and the censorship laws that films must obey, as well as the policy of self-editing that many are seeking to employ in order to get into China’s movie market remains to be seen.

Still, with more money at stake, it does seem that movie directors will be stepping up their game and producing bigger blockbusters than normal, and that has to be a good thing for moviegoers.