Disney just released Iron Man 3, the blockbuster franchise that jump started Robert Downey Jr.’s career and launched the Marvel cinematic universe.
Interestingly, Chinese audiences will be screened a different version than the one being released everywhere else. This Chinese version will contain footage specifically shot for the Chinese audience, featuring top Chinese actress Fan Bingbing. Schema Magazine wrote a story about it a year ago.
Last year, Disney partnered with Chinese film company DMG who brought a whopping $60 million dollars to the table in financing, so it makes sense that they would at the very least, custom create a version of the film that catered to Chinese audiences.
Further, the People’s Republic of China only allow 34 non-Chinese films into their cinemas per year. With a potential 1.34 billion moviegoers, China overtook Japan to become the biggest foreign market for Hollywood films.
These 34 slots are coveted by Hollywood producers and it makes sense that Disney would partner with DMG to ensure that their film (whose total budget was over $200 million dollars) would occupy one of these spots. Better still, if they make an alternate version with more focus on popular Chinese actors to entice Chinese moviegoers into the theatre. Interestingly, if (when?) Iron Man 3 dominates the box office, will this compel other Hollywood producers to team up with Chinese companies to secure a screening of their films in China?
Will we be seeing more ‘Chinese alternate’ versions of films in the future? And what will the demand be for the “Chinese cut” of these films in Canada and the US?
While many (us included) are greatly anticipating the release of the film for its grandiose action sequences, others (Schema included) are waiting with baited breath to see how Ben Kingsley will portray the villain character of the Mandarin.
Historically in the comic books, the Mandarin was a racist caricature with mystical powers competing against the science and technology of the West.
Director Shane Black has stated that he will not rehash old stereotypes, and recent interviews had indicated that the Mandarin will not be Kingsley in yellowface (phew!) but a terrorist obsessed with Sun-Tzu’s Art of War and incorporates Chinese culture and history into his persona.