How China Influences Western Film

The Chinese box office brought in $8.9 billion dollars in 2018. That’s only three billion behind US numbers. Here I’m broadly looking at how the state controlled Chinese film industry seeks better international grounding, and how pro-Chinese sentiment is finding its way into mainstream Western film.

China’s film industry is state controlled, but all films shown in China have to be approved. This means that, with the second largest market in the world, if film producers want their movie shown in China they have to conform to the will of the state.

But while China has an iron grip on what is imported, it seeks to influence international audiences with large films made with export, and foreign audiences in mind.

I try to give a broad overview of China’s influence in this video. The depth of the subject proper though, especially when it comes to the strategy of Chinese state film and analysis surrounding it, is far far greater.


China Box Office Growth Slows to 9 Percent in 2018, Ticket Sales Reach $8.9B – Hollywood Reporter

Navigating Restriction In The Chinese Film Industry – Eastwestbank

Hollywood Movies At Chinese Box Office – Hollywood Reporter

5 Trends At Chinese Box Office – Hollywood Reporter

Call Me By Your Name Dropped – Hollywood Reporter

Gay Films In China – China Film Insider

Top Ten Box Office Performers In Chine – South China Morning Post

Box Office Mojo US Box Office numbers:

Jessica Kam On the Chinese Film Industry – 2012

Focus on China: Film Co-Production & Financing Panel – 2013

Film producer Janet Yang on the Chinese box office

CGTN Political Analyst

Lloyds Kaufman


  1. Fighting together in WW2 with the US is also propaganda. Communist China hardly fought against Japan. It was the Nationalist (ROC) Chinese under Cheng Kai Shek. It was them Roosevelt was allied with. It was them that was originally part of the security council of the UN. After WW2, nationalist Chinese were chased away to taiwan by mao and the communists.

    Before Tienanmen Square, propaganda was more focused on how communism was awesome. After Tienanmen, they learned that this flavor of propaganda leads to democratic uprising (Tienanmen) and the propaganda shifted to Mao and the communists saved China from Japan.

  2. I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding that Chinese film, even state sanctioned Chinese film, is deprived of any critical element of Chinese society. When reading the legislation, the clause that says the movies cannot disagree with the CCP's guidelines, those guidelines are to respect the people's democratic model in China as well as its principles. It's not an interdiction of dissent from the way the government is being conducted nor an opposition to all things non-socialist (China isn't socialist, although it purpotedly aims to become), but an interdiction of irrational attacks on their ideology, as that can be milked by separatist groups in China (there are many, both in China and abroad, and they're several millions of dollars powerful). As evidence that the censorship isn't strict and vague, Coco got passed because despite being a movie that heavily featured the supernatural, it didn't make the whole movie's purpose to exploit the idea, but rather as a prop for an iteration on the family topic. The Chinese government apparently adopts the Marxist dialectic model when evaluating issues of all kinds and the Marxist model is flexible and endowed with self-critical mechanisms, so it can point the values it advocates towards its own core principles, thus leading to more refined conclusions than ''spirits bad, movie no enter'' or the like.

    Despite all that, your analysis acknowledges its limitations and this comment is meant solely to expand on the nature of these limitations, with the intent to indicate how your analysis on Chinese media influence in the West could sharpen and deepen.

  3. If you can't make Films for Chinese Audience, you are free to not make films for Chinese Audience. Isn't that Freedom? If Chinese people want to see your film, they will find a way. Managing A billion people is not an easy project. I doubt you are still Married and Have more than 5 kids.

  4. I thought the Great Wall represented everything I loved about the Military. Honor, Sacrifice, Obedience, Focus, Intelligent, Smart, Confident, and so on. Whether or not it is a propaganda movie doesn't matter, Every movie is propaganda, the gay propaganda, Porn, Drug, Police, etc. All propaganda.

  5. Western media is generally so phony anyway (as it conforms to SJW ideals) that having it conform to Chinese ideals too, doesn't make much difference to me.

  6. Wait until you visit Turin, Italy. I have never seen so many dog turds festooning every promenade and avenue. Every turn a turd and every step a squelch. I just keep my eyes up on the mountains.