In a move designed to not offend a market worth $1.5 billion dollars annually, MGM has designed to use extra shooting, re-editing, audio changes, and digital replacement to change the villain of the Red Dawn remake from invading Chinese, to invading North Koreans.
Could this be one of the most cynical and transparently corporate decision made for a film in recent history? Well I think it might be just that.
The change will apparently cost less than a million bucks, according to the LA Times, but will save them a giant headache of upsetting other studios who deal with the country, along with corporate interests in China itself. We live in an era in which our looming adversary of sorts is no longer a perpetual threat of hellish destruction, but a far scarier and more immediate threat of motherfuckers calling our loans. Not a lot of exciting combat potential there. What that means is that Red Dawn was a pretty dumb fucking idea in the first place, but more importantly that it’s hard to make a paranoid thriller about an enemy with whom you still plan on doing business.
But fuck North Korea!
Realizing that no one really gives a shit about those other Asians in that dumb poor country with the silly dictator, the producers have come to the brilliant conclusion that Americans can’t distinguish one form of squinted eyes from another, so they’ll digitally change flags, re-record dialogue, and morph the villain of the film into a North Korean army that’s invading with a coalition that includes a small Chinese presence (it would seem there is some stuff with Chinese that would be impossible to change).
So now instead of focusing on the absurdity of an outright Chinese military invasion, audiences will get to play “spot the thing that used to be Chinese” the entire movie. I don’t think Red Dawn ever had much of a chance after being shelved for so long, and being a forced concept in the first place, but I guess this at least turns into an oddity. A film that you go see in the same way you might visit a freakshow- nothing good is going to come of it, but you have to see how this turns out. I suppose I can’t blame them for trying something. It must be rough to be stuck with a film leftover from a previous regime that you can’t release as is, but cost too much money to shelve forever- especially when its star is about to blow up with the Thor release.
From the LA Times story…
“We were initially very reluctant to make any changes,” said Tripp Vinson, one of the movie’s producers. “But after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous ‘Red Dawn’ that we believe improves the movie.”
It occurs to me that the producers may have shot themselves in the foot though, as there’s a strong chance that either now or closer to release the major news networks will pick up on this story, which raises questions about politics and economics. Fox loves to do those “look at silly Hollywood” stories all the time, and this is perfect for a (rightfully) condescending segment with faux-racial outrage and geo-political examination. I guess they’re in “any publicity is good publicity” mode at this point, so maybe they’re banking on it.
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