These days we’re so used to seeing story after story about Hollywood caving to China and choosing the billions they make off the Chinese masses over their own morals, that it’s genuinely surprising when Hollywood makes the correct decision and stands up to China. Yet we’ve seen multiple examples of just such a phenomenon lately, and it’s time to give credit where it’s due.
The Chinese government recently demanded that Sony scrub the Statue of Liberty from its film, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” because the CCP deemed the statue “too patriotic.” Sony declined and the film went on to garner nearly $1.9 billion in worldwide box office revenue, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of all time, despite the fact that it was banned in China.
Paramount Pictures came under fire when the trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick” was first released and fans noted that the Taiwanese flag was absent from a patch on Maverick’s signature leather jacket. At first, it seemed as if this would be yet another example of a major Hollywood studio caving to the demands of the Chinese Communist Party. Yet when the film was released last month, the Taiwanese flag was back on Maverick’s jacket.
While “Top Gun: Maverick” is now banned in China, it’s still a box office hit. It’s been out for less than two weeks and already grossed more than $500 million worldwide. Fans and critics alike have both praised the film, and it even has a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes than the original.
These recent examples of studios standing up to China provide a stark contrast to the slew of other instances where Hollywood got it wrong. Whether it was Disney removing a “Simpsons” episode set in Hong Kong or the NBA ignoring the genocide of Uyghur Muslims or Warner Brothers removing references to a gay relationship from the Chinese version of their latest “Harry Potter” movie. We are so used to Hollywood bending the knee to appease China that it actually comes as a surprise when American film studios put American interests first.
It doesn’t need to be this way though. Hollywood can learn something from the stunning successes of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” Standing up to China is a winning strategy. Studios don’t need Chinese dollars or woke agendas to turn out box office hits. They simply need to tell a good story without an agenda, that doesn’t apologize for America, and audiences will reward them for it. Hopefully, we’ll see more of Hollywood standing up to China in future films.