Red Dawn changes enemy, it's all about the dollar
It's funny when studios try to defend hard cash decisions on the basis of art, and even with the Red Dawn remake it's no different. Scared at the negativity coming out of China about being portrayed as the enemy of the film, the studio have backtracked and replaced the Chinese images with Korean ones and remade a couple of key scenes.
Now China won't be the country who invades America, Korea will be, and I would be guessing by that they mean North Korea. Now that would be a pretty amazing thing to see.
North Korea population is difficult to tell, it's a secretive country, but estimates and official figures are over the 20 million mark, the population of the U.S. is over 310 million. Call me crazy but that's a hell of a small invading army and I really do struggle with the idea that they would be able to invade.
China however has a population of over 1.3 billion, that's over a thousand million, now they would be able to invade American and land with superior ground forces, of that there isn't a doubt.
Altogether China is the better enemy for the story, they have the numbers and they're a Communist country, something that fits right in with the story. Okay, so does North Korea, but 20 million versus 310 million? Plus the North Korea population is thought to be an aging one.
For me it just doesn't work, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for North Korea to suddenly think so big rather than invading countries nearer to home and build itself up first.
Trying to marry this up with real life aside, the reason that the change has been made is because Hollywood has been targeting China as a key market outside of the U.S., one that could bring in a lot of money, and portraying them as an enemy of the U.S., even in an entertaining film, isn't what they want for trade relations.
MGM stated through the L.A. Times and Latino Review that no one had talked with Chinese authorities and that would mean the studio just decided to digitally erase all Chinese flags, insignias and propaganda from Red Dawn on their own as well as reshoot scenes. In fact the article states that the decision was made after screenings to potential distributors and the response from them was that they would be concerned about distribution and had even requested anonymity in some cases.
Tripp Vinson, one of the producers of the film came out with a glorious quote:
"We were initially very reluctant to make any changes...But after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous 'Red Dawn' that we believe improves the movie."
That doesn't work when you consider the countries and the population size, how does it suddenly make it scarier, more dangerous and smarter? How could moving from a Chinese invading force to a North Korean invading force make the film better?
It's clearly one thing and one thing alone, they wanted distribution in China and they want to earn the money there.
At least Mike Vollman the Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for MGM was honest when he said:
"MGM has been working with the film 'Red Dawn's' director and producers to make the most commercially viable version of the film for audiences worldwide...We want to ensure the most people possible are able to experience it."
I respect that honesty much more than some rubbish about the change making the film better.
However it seems that not so much needs to be changed, or perhaps it's another publicity comment, but we're also told that the US $1 million worth of changes to the film will see the opening sequence which creates the fictional world where this could happen changed, the editing of two scenes and digital work throughout the film to remove all the Chinese symbols and change them to Korean.
I think the key there is "fictional world".
The article also mentions that it's actually a coalition that invades the U.S., I'd be interested to see who else is invading the country along with North Korea, probably all the countries that don't buy Hollywood films.
Do the studios know they are alienating potential future markets? Perhaps they should stick to aliens invading all the time, mind you, they could be potential markets in the future too.
Interestingly the director Dan Bradley wasn't around to comment on any of this. I wonder what he or any of the writers would say? Toe the studio line or be annoyed that they were selling out and changing the film? Why didn't anyone suggest this at the script or development stages?