Hollywood studios complain about their limited access to China. But they are also currying favor with the CFG, gatekeeper to the wallets of Chinese moviegoers. CFG sees itself as the guardian of Chinese mores. Films must contain the proper "Chinese elements" to be approved for release.
The plot of Sony's doomsday picture "2012" featured Chinese ark-builders as saviors of the story's flood victims. The overwhelmingly positive attention the film received in the state-controlled press hints at China's eagerness for Hollywood to abandon its historical vilification and fantasization of China in favor of helping it look good to the world.
No more Chinese enemies in the movies
Hollywood seems equally eager to do so. MGM recently scrubbed all references to a Chinese enemy from its upcoming remake of the 1984 cold-war-era drama "Red Dawn," digitally replacing Chinese military insignias with North Korean ones in a late edit.
Betting that China's multiplex owners, like their counterparts around the world, want as many high-earning 3-D films as possible, DreamWorks is playing one of its strong cards: attention to detail.
"3-D technology forced us to give depth to the film and show off the research we did in China so carefully this time around," says Raymond Zibach, veteran DreamWorks production designer for "Kung Fu Panda," during a three-day promotional tour to this cradle of the panda.