The United States of America is the most powerful nation in the world. While some people will argue that China is a close rival in terms of economic and purchasing power, the one undeniable fact that truly makes the US the world’s superpower is our culture. Unrivaled in entertainment and music, America’s greatest export truly has no competitors.
China is looking to change that.
Recently organizations controlled by the Chinese government have made plays to purchase American film companies (such as Legendary Entertainment) and are now looking to create an avenue to become the world’s leading cultural export. Unfortunately, their past attempts have failed miserably. China now has the world’s largest middle class, and can account for hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. Due to their influence, the country is seeking to benefit from their new position.
Later this year, the first major attempt of this new strategy will be led by Matt Damon. Damon will star in the new Chinese film “The Great Wall”, about a group of soldiers defending themselves upon China’s most recognizable structure.
But will American audiences care? The last successful Chinese film in America was Jet Li’s “Hero”, which came out 2004. Perhaps over a decade of learning US audience habits will help the country import new entertainment, but I’m not convinced. American’s love American stories. No matter how much China looks at big named movie stars to lead it’s films I don’t think audiences in the US will pay too much attention to Chinese historical narratives. The same is true of American films exported to China with heavy American narratives.
Films that work best take on an international theme, and I think that’s what will truly make Chinese films successful. But perhaps I am wrong. For now Chinese strategy is to whitewash Chinese films to introduce Chinese actors to American culture. Let’s see the results.