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Wilshire Column: Linking China with Dirty Seats in Clarion Movie Theater

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 @ 12:10 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

wilshire mugIt’s a small world when you can show a connection between a China-owned company and dirty seats in movie theaters in Clarion, Pennsylvania.

It’s no secret that Russians tried and continue to work and change the hearts and minds of Americans with a dress attack of false information posted on social media sites such as Facebook.

I’m not saying this as a political statement, but more a statement of fact. Let’s skip the discussion about Russia’s specific intent and look at the involvement of other countries in our media.

The elephant in the room is, of course, Facebook and the ability for any country or agents of their land to buy ads or placements designed to look like factual information or advertisements but in reality are lies. This convinced many people to look at all news as fake news.

Russia is not the first country to use misinformation to help win a war or confuse people. The United States successfully used misinformation to confuse Germany in World War II, including takes stories placed in newspapers, inflatable equipment to reflect staging areas that would be reviewed by an enemy reconnaissance, and other methods. There was no Internet in those days, so flyers with written appeals were dropped from airplanes to influence the hearts and minds of those people.

One significant difference in the recent actions is that there was no declared war, and we must now look at things as a continuing undeclared war.

Taking a look at influence on media one has to go no further than the local movie theater. The power of China in Hollywood is well-documented in recent years. I don’t think that they are influencing elections, but they have a tremendous impact on what goes into movies because they’re now the largest audience for any film.

The Dalian Wanda Group, a real estate and entertainment conglomerate owned by China’s richest man, Dalian Wanda, first purchased AMC Entertainment, the parent of AMC theaters, and then rebranded Carmike Cinemas (part of the AMC family) the most significant theatrical exhibitor in America.

Wanda also purchased the Legendary Entertainment Group that has come financed many significant movies like Jurassic World, Godzilla comment Pacific Rim. This is how Wanda describes Legendary on its web page, “Legendary Entertainment is a leading media company with film (Legendary Pictures), television and digital (Legendary Television and Digital Media) and comics (Legendary Comics) divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to worldwide audiences.”

Not quite a declaration of war, but they are probably reaching just as many people as Russia did on Facebook.

Not only does that give them a tremendous influence on what goes into movies it also gives them control on scheduling what movies are displayed at its theaters. One can only hope Wanda can do something about the filthy seats in the Clarion movie theaters.

According to published reports, China’s box office grew from $863 million in 2002 to almost $8 billion in 2017.

It may also be about money instead of just influence, but the combination of cash and influence may even be more dangerous.

At first, China’s interest in Hollywood movies may have been more directed at just buying up as many American companies as possible, but in recent years, China has been interested in luring top name actors as leads in some of its financed movies to mixed results.

The direction of China may have changed or increased by hiring directors and the talent behind the scenes to help produce the movies showing in China.  One example is bringing the Russo Brothers, director of Captain America and the Avengers Infinity Wars to come to China and bear their expertise for one of China’s films.

Even Disney was reportedly influenced with what would or wouldn’t be allowed in China (they still do censor films there) by changing a character in Dr. Strange.  The Ancient One was located in Tibet in the original Steve Ditko book.

A screenwriter for the movie said Disney didn’t want Tibet mentioned because it might upset China, and the movie might not receive approval for release.  Disney, of course, denied it.

Here was Screen Rant’s take on the controversy,”… common sense dictates that this is exactly the reason why Stephen Strange travels to Nepal, rather than Tibet, and why the Ancient One is Celtic instead of Tibetan. What’s particularly interesting about the screenwriter’s comments, however, is the implication that merely acknowledging the existence of Tibet would be “getting political” on Marvel’s part, whereas dodging the China-Tibet issue entirely is somehow not political.”


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