Is this new Star Wars promotional poster from China kinda racist? It certainly seems so

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RocketNews 24:

The promotional poster for the new entry in the Star Wars franchise appears to omit or downplay non-white actors.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will apparently be the first entry in the venerated franchise to see wide release in China. Chinese audiences’ growing clout in Hollywood almost certainly has something to do with that, with the Chinese movie market recorded as the fastest growing in the world in 2014 and expected by some to overtake the U.S. movie-going public in terms of butts in chairs by 2020.

But it appears that, in Disney’s zealous pursuit of Chinese box office money, the company has allowed a potentially serious PR gaffe in the form of Chinese promotional posters for the new Star Wars film that are similar in nearly every way to the promo posters of other regions except for the glaring omission of several non-white characters.

Hong Kong-based columnist Ray Kwong compares the English-language and Chinese promo posters

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Actor John Boyega’s character Finn – a major protagonist in the film who is also black – is shrunk wayyyyy down in size and pushed down near the bottom of the poster. At a glance, the character appears to have been erased entirely in favor of a more sprawling shot of dogfighting spacecraft. Missing entirely are Oscar Isaac, a Guatemalan-American actor portraying resistance fighter Poe Dameron, and Lupita Nyong’o, a black actress who plays a character named Maz Kanata.

At least one Chinese news outlet says Chinese analysts are brushing off the changes, denying that they’re discriminatory and arguing that the edits aimed for maximum appeal to the Chinese audience and just happened to coincidentally eliminate or downplay all non-white characters. This logic, though, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, considering that, this being the first Star Wars film to see wide release in China, Chinese audiences would presumably have no affinity with the returning characters from the earlier films – who seem to be emphasized and enlarged here.

Inexplicably, Chewbacca the Wookiee – who we presume needs no introduction on this site – has also been eliminated from the Chinese poster, along with some other subtle changes such as turning villain Kylo Ren more towards the viewer.

Discrimination is rampant in many parts of East Asia, including Japan, and there are many accounts of people of African descent experiencing harsher discrimination than white and Asian foreigners in these countries. In light of this, it seems that – even if the changes to the poster were made purely in the name of economic gains rather than outright prejudice – the idea of the Chinese marketing arm for Disney making these unfortunate changes by sheer, innocent coincidence would be astronomically far-fetched.

Regardless of the exact process that enabled these changes to see the light of day, it seems inevitable that Disney, notorious for carefully curating its reputation worldwide, will pull the posters in favor of something less polarizing.

Chinese box office overtakes U.S. for the first time in history

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Slash Film/ Hollywood Reporter: 

Hollywood is regularly considered the center of the movie universe. American films are made there, and those films not only play within America’s borders, they get shipped all over the world. But as technology gets better and movie tickets more expensive, those tables have been turning. These days, an American film will regularly make more money overseas than it will in the U.S. Of course, that’s one country versus hundreds, but that’s certainly a newer trend.

Until this month though, even if some movies made more money overseas, our monthly box office has always been the highest. The second largest market, China, has done well but never overtaken us. That changed in February 2015 when the U.S. box office grossed $640 million while the Chinese box office took in $650 million.

The Hollywood Reporter made this surprising discovery. The point out that North America as a whole outgrossed China, but Canada accounted for $50 million of the $710 million.

Almost more impressively, China accomplished this feat almost all on its own. Several big American films like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 did play there and count towards the $650 million total. But they didn’t rank among the top five.

Here are the top five films at the Chinese box office in February 2015:

  1. The Man From Macau II starring Chow Yun-Fat – $104 million (pictured above)
  2. Dragon Blade starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody – $95 million
  3. Wolf Totem directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud- $72 million
  4. Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal directed by Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu – $56 million
  5. Somewhere Only We Know directed by Xu Jinglei – $44 million

And here are top five highest grossing films in the US in February 2015:

  1. Fifty Shades of Grey – $147.8 million
  2. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water – $140.3 million
  3. Kingsman: The Secret Service – $85.7 million
  4. Jupiter Ascending – $43.1 million
  5. McFarland, USA – $22 million

As you can see, the US films are a bit more top heavy. However, despite the ultra success of Fifty Shades, Spongebob and new movies from Matthew Vaughn and the Wachowskis, February is generally a weak month. It’s sort of the dead zone between the big blockbusters of the holidays and the summer season, which is starting earlier and earlier. And with films like Furious 7 and Avengers: Age of Ultron coming, China likely won’t outgross the U.S. again for sometime.

Nevertheless, more money was spent going to the movies in China in February than was in the U.S. It’s a historic moment.


The Biggest Movie In The World Right Now Is About A Mystical Monkey

The Monkey King grossed an estimated $46 million this weekend, and almost all of that money came from China.

The highest-grossing movie in the world this weekend wasn’t released in the United States, or in Europe, or in South America, but in China. The Monkey King opened in the world’s most populous country, as well as six other territories, with an estimated $46 million, according to Variety. If those estimates hold, it will be nearly four times the top-grossing movie at the U.S. box office this weekend, the Kevin Hart-comedy Ride Along, with $12 million.

Following the exploits of a mystical, powerful monkey (Donnie Yen, also the film’s fight choreographer), the 3D film is based on part of the 16th-century Chinese mythological novel Journey to the West. It debuted on the first day of the Chinese New Year, setting a new opening-day record in that country with an estimated $20 million. It also appears to have set a single-day worldwide record for IMAX, with $1.8 million.

The success underlines the rapid growth of the Chinese box office, and why American studios have worked so tirelessly to schedule their films within the country (a process that requires a non-native film either be a Chinese co-production, or released in partnership with a Chinese exhibitor). Last year, Pacific Rim grossed more in China than it did in the U.S., and the top-grossing film in the U.S., Iron Man 3, came in second at the annual box office in China to a separate adaptation of Journey to the West, entitled Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons.

According to the Facebook page for The Monkey King, the film will be released in the U.S. this summer.