“Hollywood is one of the most powerful platforms for the U.S. to project its ” soft power” to the world!”
History in the Making
Due to its dynamic economic development and increased income, China has been setting historical new records one after another in the past ten years. As the world’s largest market for automobiles and mobile phones, according to the latest reports, China is also set to become the world’s largest movie market by year 2020.
Released just four weeks ago in China, the science fiction blockbuster, Tranformers: Age of Extinction, reached stunning box office sales of $285 million dollars, exceeding the U. S. domestic sales of $227 million. This history-making event is the first time ever that a film has sold more tickets in a single foreign market than in the U. S.. It is even more unusual for the fact that China has a highly self-protected and censored movie market.
Between 1950 to the late 1960’s, under the shadow of the Korean , Vietnam, and Cold Wars, the image of the Chinese people and country was portrayed in Hollywood as negative. In addition, given China’s long-lasting weak economy and political chaos, Hollywood was also in no mood to show meaningful praise to “Red China.”
This negative image improved with the introduction of the famous, U.S. born Chinese martial art icon, Bruce Lee. He showed phenomenal success and influence in Hollywood during the late 60’s, continuing through to his death in 1973, and beyond.
Forward to the 21st Century
China has become a major trade partner and the second largest export destination for U.S. goods — including Hollywood films. In order to fully exploit the Chinese movie market potential and appeal to Chinese movie goers, profit chasing Hollywood film makers started to add significantly more Chinese “elements” to their huge budget productions. In fact, several recent Hollywood hits such as 007 Sky Fall, Iron Man 3, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, showed a large portion of these films were actually shot in China. Also noticed is the fact that many more Chinese actors are able to showcase their talent in playing more significant and positive major roles.
Through these recent films, the modern life style of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and others have been introduced, and the beautiful scenery and historical places of interest such as the Great Wall and Forbidden City and others are also presented. It is fair to say that the mighty, boundless power of Hollywood movies have helped to spread China’s positive and impressive new image, world-wide.
Creating The Bridge
There is no doubt that profit-making is the primary goal for Hollywood’s film makers as they expand their movie frontier into China. However, they do have a moral and social responsibility to help improve U.S. and Chinese relations by serving as a conduit in promoting a valuable two-way culture exchange.
Through their high quality movies, Hollywood can introduce to the Chinese market the U.S. values of democracy, freedom, science, technology, rule of law, industrious culture, and great sense of humor. In return, Hollywood can also take the opportunity to show the American people the value of Chinese culture, such as family relationships, respect of elders, filial piety, education, hard-working, harmony, etc..
As the economy of China continues to grow, so will its movie-going public. Very likely in the not too distant future, the Chinese movie market will exceed that of the U.S.. If this happens, we do not expect Hollywood to be flooded with ‘Chinese theme” films, but believe Hollywood will inject additional “Chinese ingredients” into its future movie productions.
Hollywood has been credited as one of the most powerful platforms to project U.S. “soft power” to the world. In the meantime, we also believe it can position itself as a bridge to two great cultures by helping them understand and appreciate each other’s merits, and learning from each other’s mistakes.
Through the fascinating Hollywood movies, we truly believe that the world will be a more prosperous and peaceful place with the exchange of cultures between the two largest and most progressive economies of the world.