Editors note: I’m sure that some of you are wondering what John Cena has to do with Disney and their relationship with China. Well, the recent outrage over Cena’s apology and the seeming backlash impacting the ‘F9’ film is apparently causing stirrings and worry within Hollywood and studios like Disney.
WDW Pro will now explain what he’s hearing. Please note this article is rumor.
F9’s (The Fast and the Furious 9) John Cena received backlash after posting a recording that some felt seemed almost like a “hostage video,” in which he begged for forgiveness from the Chinese people, and the Chinese Communist Government for calling Taiwan a country.
Prior to the pandemic, Hollywood was utterly thrilled with the idea of fully integrating their businesses with the Chinese market. The philosophical spin for the west was that American entertainment would act as an important force in Chinese culture and allowing western entertainment corporations to target an exponentially increasing market that they could use to inflate their stock holder values.
Now, that way of thinking is revealing itself to have been fundamentally flawed.
Western entertainment might have felt that they could create more freedom in China, but the opposite has been true. The communist government has instead used its connections to the worldwide free market to force western corporations to follow their stipulations instead of the other way around.
If there is something even remotely offensive to the Chinese government, Hollywood strips away the material or faces the refusal of entry for that film and future films the studio creates. And as far as revenue from China goes, the companies are finding that box office returns are no sure thing.
Over the weekend, for example, John Cena’s F9 had a loss of 85% of Chinese box office revenues after his apology.
But why? Wasn’t that what the apology was for?
In order to understand the drop-off, one must first understand that Chinese moviegoers may have felt concern that going to see the film could have an effect on their social score… a credit score like means by which the Chinese Communist Party monitors every choice of Chinese citizens and determines their loyalty to the country.
If the government isn’t happy with Cena or with F9 citizens will likely shy away. Now that the film is essentially done in China, the film is likely to limp into western markets with Cena having been perceived negatively for his actions to save the film in Beijing.
These Executives focus on keeping anything China might not like out of their promotions, stores or films, coupled with worry about celebrities making social media comments that could offend the large country, is likely exhausting. Not to mention that one wrong move could lead to a full-out revenue collapse in not only the Chinese market but the western markets as well.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 31, 2021
Nowhere is this situation felt more strongly than in the halls of The Walt Disney Company, where it could impact theme parks as well as film.
Disney has come under fire for allegedly shrinking John Boyega’s image on a ‘Star Wars’ poster to appeal to Chinese audiences, and for thanking the CCP after they filmed near alleged detainment camps for “Mulan.”
For it is Robert Iger, the former CEO of The Walt Disney Company, that gambled with billions of dollars of investments in real estate ventures in China… and those real estate ventures can be taken at any moment the company angers the Chinese government.
Just like the NBA was struck from China over a single tweet, so too can Disney lose control of its Disney Parks in Shanghai and, now, Hong Kong should they raise the ire of the government.
This is why Disney and other entertainment companies are watching the John Cena situation so closely. The same source that informed us earlier that Disney executives were shocked by the number of Disney+ cancellations after the Gina Carano situation, is the same source that now reveals Disney executives are becoming quite concerned about their China relationships.
So why would Disney, in particular, be nervous about their China relationship at this venture?
Relationships with China have become more strained as of late with President Biden investigating to see if the pandemic virus leaked from the Wuhan Lab of Virology. And then there’s the the editor of the Chinese state-run newspaper, the Global Times, suggesting that China build on it’s nuclear program as a “strategic deterrence” against the United States.
All of this is adding up to potential issues between Hollywood and China. Disney may have some bigger issues given that two of their parks located in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
That’s the juggling act Hollywood now finds itself stuck in. In a John Cena situation, in which he correctly identifies Taiwan as a country but MUST apologize, can any apology even be successful?
Eight-five percent drop-off says “no”.
We have already seen that “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “The Eternals” may already be banned from China.
And what does a western corporation do when China state media begin talking about nuclear war?
It’s all a very unpleasant place to be, and it’s all based on entertainment companies having made a gamble that could go poorly.
Ultimately, we’ve seen that companies like Disney will do whatever raises their stock prices over the next few years rather than eyeing the potential downfalls of the next decades. But that decade may soon be approaching, and Disney and Hollywood might have to figure out how they’re going to pull back and not lose too much money after their gambles.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.