Film producer: Hollywood, US need to stand up to China

Hollywood executive Chris Fenton told Hill.TV that more people in the film industry need to speak out against China’s human rights abuses.

Fenton asserted that a common practice in Hollywood is for production studios to make concessions to the Chinese government in order to have their movies shown in China.

“If you can’t get the Chinese government to sign off and approve why your product and service should be in that market, then you’re dead on arrival,” Fenton said. 

Fenton cited the 2012 hit movie “Looper” as an example of making a movie that fit Beijing’s demands.

He said that in the movie, the setting in the future was originally going to be in France, but producers changed the location to Shanghai. Fenton said the Chinese government wanted the movie to increase national pride as Shanghai acts as the mecca of the future in the movie.

According to Fenton, Hollywood executives have missed opportunities to stand up for basic human rights. After filming in the Chinese region of Xinjiang for the 2020 movie “Mulan,” Disney thanked local officials for their help.

Fenton said while it’s customary to thank local officials, Xinjiang is where the Chinese government has been accused of committing human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims.

“The oversight of who they were thanking was obviously misguided,” Fenton said, referring to Disney.

He went on to say that the solution is not to tell Disney to fix China’s human rights problems.

“What you can say to Disney, as a pillar of free speech and creativity, is to speak up on the issue and say, ‘Hey, we don’t condone what is happening there in Xinjiang at all’ and ‘We are sorry for what we did and it will never happen again.’”