In The Martian, China saves Matt Damon—a plot point that spurred Colbert’s commentary. In fairness to the filmmakers, the Chinese involvement tracks well with the book’s narrative. However, this likely made for a nice selling point when it came time to pitch the film to investors.
Interestingly, Damon is now starring in a Chinese production called The Great Wall. As Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson notes, “the entire arc of the movie is watching a white American realize that [the] Chinese army and the Chinese culture is [sic] inherently superior.” He continued: “It’s amusing to see a Chinese/American blockbuster where the would-be virtues of western individualism are all-but-villainized.”
What we are seeing is a feedback loop where American movie producers are attempting to appease the Chinese market. Why else would the remake of Red Dawn voluntarily swap villains, replacing the Chinese with North Koreans?
Part of the reason for this is that there is a lot of competition, not merely to reach China’s large population of moviegoers but also because China has a quota for how many foreign films they allow in. This might change. According to a recent report, “government officials and industry representatives from China and the U.S. meet to renegotiate trade terms later this month… .”