Chinese audiences are a massively lucrative market for American filmmakers, with China on track to pass the U.S. as the largest movie market. The Hollywood Reporter recently reported that American movies made over $2.5 billion in China last year.
But selling movie tickets in China comes at a price, as the Chinese government has complete control over what movies make it to their massive audience. The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department controls media oversight.
But one Hollywood veteran movie star, Richard Gere, a long time critic of China’s influence over the movie industry, showed that he will not be controlled by China, and he testified before a Senate committee June 30 on China-U.S. relations. Hollywood in Toto reported:
Richard Gere’s “virtual” appearance didn’t draw a crowd. Nor did entertainment reporters, who normally pounce on any politically outspoken star, deem what Gere said worthy of news coverage.
And he said plenty.
Gere has been a persistent China critic, using his celebrity cache on and off screen to support Tibet over the years. He said he’s been punished for that stance, coaxing mainstream movie studios to all but ignore him. Unbowed, Gere continues to work in independent cinema, think movies like “Norman,” “The Dinner” and “Three Christs,” routinely drawing strong reviews along the way.
And, at 70, Gere remains as dashing as ever.
Gere testified before the “Censorship as a Non-Tariff Barrier to Trade” hearing held by the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness.
Gere addressed the difficult ties between China and Tibet, noting “the Chinese government highly restricts access to Tibet for Americans—including journalists and politicians—like no other areas of China.”
He then turned his attention to Hollywood’s subservient relationship to China, which impact more than just what we see on screens across the globe.
“There’s no doubt that the combination of Chinese censorship, coupled with American film studios’ desire to access China’s market, can lead to self-censorship and to avoiding social issues that great American films once addressed….”
“Imagine Marty Scorsese’s ‘Kundun,’ about the life of the Dalai Lama, or my own film ‘Red Corner,’ which is highly critical of the Chinese legal system. Imagine them being made today. It wouldn’t happen.”
Read the whole thing. It’s worth your time and Hollywood in Toto is a great website too.