CHINA: Scorsese movie blocked in PRC
The Departed shows leaks of U.S. technology to Chinese villains
Friday, January 19, 2007
Hong Kong --- Hollywood crime thriller The Departed -- which has Boston gangsters trying to sell computer technology to ethnic Chinese villains -- won't be showing in China after its rejection by a state-run film distributor, an industry executive said yesterday.
China Film Group, the major importer for films shown in China, told the film's Hong Kong distributor Media Asia that the Martin Scorsese hit wasn't suitable for Chinese audiences, though it declined to give a reason, Media Asia marketing manager Kali Chan said.
"They sent a letter to us saying this movie is inappropriate, so they won't import it," she said.
The move effectively blocks the Warner Bros movie from China's market, and Chan said her company doesn't plan to lobby for a reversal of the decision.
"If they've seen the movie and they don't think it's appropriate, then there's probably nothing we can do," she said.
Yuan Wenqiang, a vice president at China Film Group, declined to comment, saying he needed to consult sales staff first.
Any leak of US technology to China is a sensitive political issue, and its portrayal in the movie may have worried company executives.
China allows only about 20 imported films per year, and it's not uncommon for government censors to reject major Hollywood movies. Last year, censors blocked Memoirs of a Geisha, which features ethnic Chinese movie stars playing Japanese escorts, amid speculation the government feared it could stoke Sino-Japanese tensions.
But the case of The Departed is unusual in that the importer appears to have rejected the movie before it was submitted to censors.
The film is based on the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, about a showdown between a police officer who goes undercover in a Hong Kong gang and a gangster who infiltrates the police.
The Departed has a largely similar plot but changes the setting to Boston.
Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahl-berg, Martin Sheen and Alec Bald-win star in the remake.
In one scene, the mobster played by Nicholson meets with ethnic Chinese gangsters about selling them computer chips.
The film has performed well at the box office, and losing the small-but-growing Chinese market won't be a big blow for the filmmakers.
Piracy is also rampant in China, and locals will likely be able to find illegal DVD copies.
The Departed has made US$249 million worldwide on a budget of US$90 million, and earned the best director award for Scorsese at the Golden Globes.
Date Posted: 1/19/2007