During the Cold War, some Americans were worried that Communists were infiltrating the motion picture industry, so as to influence the West with their Marxist propaganda. Today, Communists are taking an easier route. They are just buying the industry.
Government-connected Chinese investors have recently bought AMC Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment studios, Carmike Cinemas, Dick Clark Productions, and have formed a partnership with SONY. The Chinese are also buying up movie theater chains in Australia and Europe.
Chinese spokesmen are denying that anything nefarious is going on, but China, with its hybrid ideology of Communism plus money-making, is a heavy censor of its own film industry and already influences Hollywood by refusing access to its lucrative market for films that show China in a bad light.
Then again, the Left already dominates Hollywood, so maybe we won’t see so much change after all.
From Richard Berman, China’s rising threat to Hollywood, Politico:
Dick Clark Productions — the producer of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” and other American classics — is on the verge of a major sale.
The buyer? Dalian Wanda, a Chinese firm closely aligned to China’s Communist Party.
The same company is intent on “build[ing] a real movie empire” by consolidating U.S. film studios and movie theater chains under one parent company. In 2012, the company bought AMC Entertainment—the second-largest movie theater chain in the country for about $2.6 billion. It then purchased Legendary Entertainment—the producer of “The Dark Knight Trilogy” — for an even heftier $3.5 billion in January of this year. Chinese-controlled AMC now plans to buy Carmike Cinemas for $1.2 billion, forming the country’s largest chain with 8,380 screens in more than 600 theaters by the end of the year.
For American moviegoers, the peril lies in the unseen. Would a war movie called South China Sea ever play in one of Wanda’s theaters? What about an action flick with a Chinese villain?
When you control the movie experience, you can subtly influence public opinion. And the Chinese government — Wanda’s staunch supporter — has been transparent about that goal. The Communist Party has banned or currently bans thousands of books deemed controversial. It heavily censors the Internet, while Facebook and Twitter remain prohibited in China — one of the reasons Freedom House ranked it a more restrictive society than Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The film industry is perhaps the most restricted sector.
See also this from the Washington Post with more details and concerns that are being raised.