You know we’ve come a long way when the formerly Maoist regime of China is not only allowing their citizens to watch films from the greedy imperialist west, but they’re cutting said films in order to add more consumer advertising. I guess this is what winning the Cold War looks like. USA! USA! USA… I always knew that if I just cracked enough Coors Lights, those dowdy artillery plant workers would shed their grey coveralls for a bikini pool party. (*air guitar*)
HONG KONG – As the houselights dimmed in cinemas across mainland China at around midnight on Tuesday, audiences attending the first wave of public screenings of Iron Man 3 fell silent with apprehension as a question appeared on screen: “What does Iron Man rely on to revitalize his energy?”
After a three-second blackout, three big Chinese characters appeared onscreen: “Gu Li Duo.”
The Marvel fanboys shouldn’t bother to rummage through their libraries to solve this riddle, because Gu Li Duo isn’t a a mystical power source in the original comic series — it’s a milk drink which is on sale for less than $1 a carton in convenience stores across mainland China.
Phew, I was worried the answer was going to be ground up rhino horn, or endangered tiger penis.
Online reactions to the film have been largely positive, but bloggers appear united in their consternation of the deliberate product placement that sees new a character named Dr Wu (played by mainland Chinese actor Wang Xueqi) consume a carton of Gu Li Duo.
Not that audiences outside mainland China will get a glimpse of this, though: this scene is part of the film’s China release, a version which is four minutes longer than the normal cut seen everywhere else in the world.
All of these additional sequences revolve around Chinese characters. There’s Dr Wu having a telephone conversation – from his office in Beijing, in Chinese – with the television behind him showing a news bulletin of Iron Man cheered by schoolchildren in one of the Chinese capital’s landmarks. And towards the end of the film, Dr. Wu is shown operating on Stark – and then having a short conversation with his unnamed assistant (played by Fan Bingbing) about the task.
Jointly produced by the Disney-owned Marvel Pictures and the Beijing-based DMG Entertainment, Iron Man 3 is not classified as a Sino-US co-production – a status which would have given the film’s foreign investors a larger share of the box office (25 percent) than an import. [THR]
Product placement this ham-fisted and obvious actually seems kind of quaint, and charming. I’d much rather see them cut in obviously-filmed-somewhere-else-at-a-different-time product placement scenes than the supposedly more integrated American version, where you’re watching The Next Iron Chef, and surprise! Today’s special ingredient is Milky Way Bars™! I mean, I know you have to advertise, but maybe you could do it in a way that doesn’t ruin the whole f*cking show?