China Will Get Its Own ‘Iron Man 3’
Marvel Studios will release a special cut of the movie “Iron Man 3” specifically for China, the Walt Disney Co. subsidiary said Friday in a joint statement with Chinese media company DMG.
The domestic, Chinese and other international versions of the comic book film will all include elements of interest to Chinese audiences — “Iron Man 3” pits Robert Downey Jr.’s industrialist superhero against scientist-villain the Mandarin (British-Indian actor Ben Kingsley, playing a character who was Chinese in the comic books). Director Shane Black filmed scenes in Beijing in December with Chinese actor Wang Xueqi playing a character named Dr. Wu.
But the Chinese version of the film will also include special bonus footage, including an appearance by Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, according to the statement.
This isn’t the first time a Hollywood production has tailored itself for the fast-growing Chinese film audience. The 2012 Joseph Gordon-Levitt science-fiction film “Looper” employed a similar approach, including footage of Shanghai streets and landmarks only in the Chinese version of the film.
The third film in the Iron Man series will not have co-production status in China. According to The Diplomat, both the Chinese and US versions of the film will have footage of Chinese actor, Wang Xueqi:
Confusion was further heightened after the film’s Chinese trailer included footage of Fan, whereas the trailer released in the United States did not.
Marvels statement did go on to say: “Marvel Studios’ experience working on this film with Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi and in shooting in China has been very positive and has created a springboard for future collaboration with China’s talented stars and its growing film and television industry.”
Fan Bingbing’s aspirations of breaking into Hollywood are hardly over, however. Last week Director Bryan Singer announced on his Twitter account he had cast the rising star as Blink in the next installment of his X-Men series, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Forbes Magazine ranked Fan number 3 on their 2012 list of China’s top celebrities, whereas she topped Beijing News list of the most beautiful people in China and Hong Kong in both 2008 and 2010.
Aside from Iron Man 3 and Looper, films, such as Men in Black 3, have also been impacted by the growing Chinese audience. From Wired:
This is another example of American studios becoming more aware of the importance of China as a foreign market, and with good reason; last year, China became the second largest international market for U.S.-made movies (behind Japan) after box office receipts rose 31 percent to around $2.75 billion, and is expected to overtake the U.S. market by 2020.
Similarly, scenes that were deemed potentially offensive to Chinese viewers from Men in Black 3 were removed from the Chinese edition of the movie, and in a larger example of studio caution, MGM chose to digitally alter the nationality of the invaders in their remake of Red Dawn from Chinese to North Korean for all editions of the movie, through fear of alienating a potential audience.
When the news broke of the MGM alternation last year, one Hollywood producer spoke anonymously to the L.A. Times, calling it “a clear-cut case – maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood – where a foreign country’s censorship board deeply affects what we produce.” It may have been the first, but as today’s Iron Man 3 news suggests, it may not be the last as American studios try to become far more conscious of where the money is these days.