Iron Man 3 [Photo: Marvel/Disney]
It is May and regardless of what the weatherman says, officially it is the start of the summer season for the Hollywood studios that distribute movies. Friday (May 3rd) was the North American opening of the summer blockbuster Iron Man 3.
What a blockbuster it already is, as of Monday (May 6), the movie has grossed $679 Million internationally. The movie debuts in China on May 1 and broke the all-time one day Chinese boxoffice record by earning $21.5 Million. The previous record was ‘The Avengers’ at $18 Million for that country.
The Iron Man 3 is a Disney/Marvel production starring Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, a comic book hero created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and others with a screenplay by Drew Pearce and director Shane Black. The rest of the cast includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall etc.
Since Iron Man 3 also had a Chinese partner, Beijing’s DMG Entertainment, it was classified as a joint-production which should provide an easier entrance to the world’s second biggest movie market but still not officially a co-production which would enjoy certain screening and profit-sharing privileges for the American producers in China.
According to The Hollywood Reporter (THR) reporting from Hong Kong, the Chinese version included four extra minutes not seen anywhere in the world. The additional screening time is used for product placement for such Chinese consumer goods as Gu Li Duo milk-drinks and TCL cell phones. The localized Chinese version also contains cameos from top Chinese actor Wang Xueqi and actress Fan Bingbing with scenes shot inside China.
Iron Man creator Stan Lee was eyeing the Chinese market.
In Beijing last year, Stan Lee said he was working on a Chinese comic strip hero (similar to Iron Man) for the Chinese and international market. Imagine that, Stan Lee is 90 years old and still has China in his mind. You can’t be global and leave China out these days. He was in Vancouver recently attending a cosplay event. I planned to go and if possible talk to him but just didn’t have the time.
Many moviegoers are still unaware of the ever closer ties that Hollywood is forging with China which will ultimately change how movies are made and what everyone will be watching in the future.
Robert Downey Jr. went to Beijing to promote the launching of Iron Man 3 in China and he declared, “I am interested in all things Chinese.” The Hollywood mega-star doesn’t have a Twitter account in the U.S. yet he has an equivalent one in China called Sina Weibo and that’s where he tweeted that he also ‘live(s) a very Chinese life in America.’ I don’t exactly know what that means, although he was said to be into Chinese medicine and martial arts that kind of stuff.
Here is an interesting point though. For the Chinese audience, the villain’s name Mandarin (played by Sir Ben Kingsley) has been changed to Man Daren, in an attempt to soften the negative Chinese reference. It will be interesting to see how the Chinese audience reacts to this. On the other hand, I wonder if an American audience would feel offended if a Chinese movie had an evil character called Uncle Sam or Yankee Doodle? Just a thought.
Can Iron Man 3 hit the $1 Billion mark worldwide when all is said and done? That just might be within reach for this high-voltage summer tentpole.
Ray Van Eng is an award-winning Photographer, Screenwriter and Movie & TV Producer. One of his videos is currently on view at the Hava Nagila Exhibit, Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Manhattan, New York, NY. from Sep 2012 to May 2013.