China Film Official Insists There’s No Ban on Hollywood Movies With Chinese Villains

It’s been difficult to spot a Chinese bad guy in a recent Hollywood blockbuster

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A top Chinese film official said Tuesday that there’s no official policy to bar Hollywood movies featuring Chinese bad guys from playing in the country — which is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest box office market in the next few years.

“As for villains or heroes, I don’t think there is any restriction,” Miao Xiaotian, the president of the China Film Co-Production Corporation, a state-run body that oversees co-productions, said at the Asia Society’s U.S.-China Film Summit at the University of California Los Angeles. “I cannot say that the villain cannot be played by Chinese actors. I don’t think there’s any restriction on that.”

The 2012 film “Red Dawn” famously swapped out its Chinese villains for North Koreans during postproduction to ensure it would get a theatrical run in China’s multiplexes. And since then, the number of big-screen bad guys from the Middle Kingdom has dwindled to basically zero, while the Chinese box office has become an increasingly important source of revenue for Hollywood.

Miao also shed light on China’s motives behind its policy of pursuing co-productions between U.S and Chinese firms. Official Chinese co-productions require a minimum 15 percent financial investment from Chinese partners — more with certain countries that have signed official treaties, and also substantial local representation in the cast.

“For casting, we request that there will be Chinese actors for main characters,” he said. “Our requirement is that there should not be less than one-third.”

Miao also reassured Hollywood execs about the content of films they hope to import into his country. “Don’t worry,” he said noting that most significant Hollywood films end up winning approval from China’s state censors.

This year, “Suicide Squad” and “Ghostbusters” failed to win approval — and Miao noted the war movie “300” as another example.

“I think that film didn’t go to China because of violence,” he said.

Currently, China allows 34 imported films per year on a revenue-sharing basis. Miao wouldn’t speculate on whether that quota might be raised, although there have been a flurry of Hollywood films that have recently landed China release dates, including Paramount’s “Allied,” Lionsgate’s “Deepwater Horizon” and Disney-Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” — as China’s box office has had an uncharacteristically sluggish run.

“In the future if the quota will increase or not, I’m not sure about that,” he said. “It’s hard to speculate. But I think co-production is a very good way to make it up.”