Emmerich: Chinese market won't change film plots
FILE - In this July 3, 2013 file photo, film director Roland Emmerich poses for photographers in Moscow, Russia. Although Hollywood may be benefiting by adding Chinese elements to its films, it won’t be making wholesale changes to the way it tells stories on the screen just to cater to China’s massive audience, the director said Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
BEIJING (AP) — Director Roland Emmerich says although Hollywood may be benefiting by adding Chinese elements to its films, it won't be making wholesale changes to the way it tells stories on the screen just to cater to China's massive audience.
"There will be cooperations, there will be all kinds of stuff, but will it affect the movie so much? I don't think so, because China doesn't also want to only see movies about China, they want to see movies about other things in the world," said Emmerich, who was in China to promote his action film "White House Down."
The nation of 1.3 billion people is now the world's second-biggest movie market. But China limits the number of foreign films that play here, and its censors reject movies or edit them if they show China in a bad light or are too explicit.
Earlier this year, some Chinese moviegoers were left confused because of awkward cuts to the James Bond feature "Skyfall" that included unflattering references to the sex trade in the Chinese territory of Macau. Then "Cloud Atlas" was shown in Chinese cinemas minus 38 minutes that included gay and straight love scenes.
China is even getting American studios to sanction alternative versions of films specially tailored for Chinese audiences, such as "Iron Man 3." The Chinese version features local heartthrob Fan Bingbing — absent from the version shown abroad — and lengthy clips of Chinese scenery.
"The China element is sometimes important, but it has to make sense for the story, you cannot kind of just prop a Chinese element in and think, 'Oh, this movie will work great in China' — you have to still come up with a story that makes sense," Emmerich said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press.
The German director's "2012" movie was a hit in China with a plot that was gold for patriotic Chinese audiences: As the Earth's core overheats, world leaders build an ark in the mountains of central China to house people and animals that can repopulate the planet. Scenes from the nearly three-hour movie feature a U.S. military officer saying that only the Chinese could build an ark of such a scale so quickly.
It was seen in China as a refreshing change for audiences after decades of unflattering portrayals of the communist nation in Hollywood movies.