Monday, June 10, 2013

China Scared of "The Croods"

Why "The Croods"? Who Knows.

The Croods
"The Croods" is a bona fide worldwide hit.
The autocratic Chinese government pulled another one of its classic stunts this week, giving a back-handed compliment to "The Croods" in the process. Having earned a worldwide total gross of $570 million, which isn't quite "Ice Age" money but isn't chump change either (roughly similar to "Wreck-It Ralph"), the Chinese decided that was quite enough for the upstart Americans. They pulled the film from Chinese theaters two weeks early just because the Chinese people were liking it just a little too much. It isn't like the film is doing "Avatar" business, but "The Croods" proved to be a handy target anyway.

This is an important issue to the Chinese, who (rightfully) feel left behind in the global culture wars and want their own animated films to pull in money from America, not vice versa. They were incensed, for instance, that "Kung Fu Panda" presented Chinese culture in a better light than their own Chinese animators could portray. One might say the Chinese have built up a bit of an inferiority complex about animated films. It is a unique battle being fought by the Chinese for no particular end, but it must make them feel good to tweak the high-flying American film industry when they can. 

This isn't the first time that the Chinese government has pulled a fast one on an American animated film that hit a little too close to home. Some will recall that they maneuvered the Disney classic "Mulan" (of all films) into a weak part of the Chinese film calendar (roughly equivalent to February in the United States) in a show of spite after Disney funded an obscure film, "Kundun," about the Dalai Lama. Quentin Tarantino's recent film "Django Unchained" also was pulled early, though the Chinese arguably had legitimate (as far as that goes) issues with that film's content.

"The Croods" will survive to film another sequel, and, as the accountants and lawyers would say, all the Chinese did was cause the equivalent of a rounding error in the worldwide gross. Still, it is an indication of the unappreciated pressures that film studios face when focusing on and marketing their films to a global audience.


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