‘Top Gun: Maverick’ brings back the Taiwan flag after controversy
A sensitive topic
China and Taiwan have a complex relationship. Beijing’s communist leadership has long claimed Taiwan, a self-governed democratic island, as part of its territory, despite having never ruled over it.
As part of its campaign, the Chinese government has pressured multinational companies to refer to Taiwan as a Chinese territory, in exchange for accessing its lucrative market.
Chinese and Japanese relations have also long been fraught, with tensions flaring in recent years over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Now, the film’s update is likely to anger some fans and officials in mainland China.
“There’s a high probability Beijing will ban the release and monetization of ‘Top Gun’ in China,” said Chris Fenton, former president of DMG Entertainment and author of the book “Feeding the Dragon: Inside the Trillion-Dollar Dilemma Facing Hollywood, the NBA, and American Business.”
“There’s also a probability the Chinese government will blackball the studio, filmmakers, and actors from the market for an extended period of time,” Fenton added. “We’ve witnessed similar punishments in the past.”
Currently, “Top Gun: Maverick” has not been released in mainland China, and does not have a set opening date.
But Fenton noted “that may have been a forgone conclusion anyway,” given the heightened geopolitical tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
“A film strongly promoting Western ideals and US military hegemony probably never stood a chance for approval,” he said.
“That’s a likely calculation that led to the decision [for producers to include Taiwan’s flag],” said Fenton. “The global goodwill generated by reinstating the flags easily outweighs any potential revenues from China.”
The move delighted fans in Taiwan: Social media users there cheered the decision online this week, with some calling it a “pleasant surprise.”
Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore, said that the latest round of blockbusters, including “Top Gun” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” were still able to enjoy “massive international success” despite limitations from “some countries.”
“Hollywood is starting to realize the aggravation of attempting to please China’s fickle and unpredictable censors is no longer worth the potential payoff,” said Fenton.
— CNN’s Beijing bureau and Jessie Yeung contributed to this report.
Quoted from Various Sources
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