For a movie that’s yet to come out at all, the story of 21 & Over is getting very interesting indeed. Or should we say ‘the story behind 21 & Over‘…
From the writers of The Hangover, the movie is a college party flick that sees prodigious Chinese-American student Jeff Chang being taken out by his pals for a night of uninhibited debauchery. Of course, by the end of it all, he will undoubtedly discover that he needs to let loose every now and again enjoy life. That would be the story… unless you live in China, of course.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that in an initiative between Relativity Media and a ‘consortium of Chinese companies’ (which doesn’t sound ominous at all) in which partial funding for the film would be exchanged for a significantly different cut of the film. And by significant we mean that there’s an entirely different plot now.
According to co-writer Jon Lucas the film in China will be ” a story about a boy who leaves China, gets corrupted by our wayward, Western partying ways and goes back to China a better person.” Instead of being a celebration of youth, the film would now also be a humorous indictment of American excess.
This isn’t the first time that a Hollywood film has caved to demands from the Chinese film market. From the censorship of Kate Winslet‘s boobs in Titanic to removal of ‘offensive material’ from Men in Black III, studios have always catered to the needs of Chinese audiences. But now that it’s becoming apparent that the Middle Kingdom has become a viable source of funding, studios are willing to bend over backwards to tailor their films for an Eastern audience.
In the Chinese cut of Looper, the sequences set in Shanghai were considerably longer, giving more screen time to Chinese actress Qing Xu, who only has a fleeting appearance in the American cut. The upcoming Iron Man 3 is partially a co-production with Asian media giants DMG Entertainment that saw production move to China in exchange for funding, distribution rights and the casting of a well known Chinese actor.
The size of the film going population in that country is perhaps too big to ignore now and studios are becoming acutely aware of laws limiting the number of foreign films that can be released in the country every year. If they want to access a market of over a billion people, they know that they’re going have to relinquish a little creative control.
As co-writer Scott Moore puts it: “when it’s released in China and they dub it, they sort of get to change whatever they want. I think it just comes with the territory — if you want to release it in China, they get to spin it however they want.”
21 & Over arrives at cinemas on the 29th March but the Chinese cut will be likely be floating around on pirated DVD a week before that. So at least you’ll have the choice.
[Source: LA Times]