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An ‘Iron Man’ For USA, Another For China

Marvel confirms it’s making version of new film exclusively for one country

It’s hard to get a movie shown in China. Very hard.

Each year, only a little more than a dozen American movies make it to theaters in China. And “Iron Man 3” is destined to be one of them — even if they have to create a version of the movie that pleases government censors.

Disney-owned Marvel already is working with Chinese-based DMG Entertainment to produce the film, and even cast popular Chinese actor Wang Xueqi as a primary character. But that’s not where the stroking ends. The Chinese version of “Iron Man 3” will also feature a scene with Chinese actress Fan Bingbing that will not be included in the American version.

Is “Iron Man 3” director Shane Black giving up on creative freedom? And if so, why for China? Here’s what Marvel had to say …

“Marvel Studios’ experience working on this film with Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi, and in shooting in China, has been very positive and has created a springboard for future collaboration with China’s talented stars and its growing film and television industry,” the studio said in a statement.

Translation? Marvel knows there is lots of money to be made by the $2 billion film industry in China with international sales, and they won’t be able to touch it if they don’t keep the Chinese government happy.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong necessarily with making a concerted effort to tap into a large market for business reasons. But making wholesale changes to a film in order to make that happen — including adding an actress and scene that is not part of the original story — does seem like a drastic step to take.

But as long as those efforts turn into dollars, it’s hard to complain. The international box office take of “Iron Man 2” in 2010 nearly matched its domestic take, bringing in $623.6 million total, according to The Numbers. By comparison, 2009’s “Star Trek,” which was not distributed in China, earned just $128 million in international box office.

“Iron Man 3” premieres May 3 — three weeks before “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”

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