The movie “Born to Fly,” a Chinese communist version (some called it plagiarism) of the successful “Top Gun” saga, was canceled before its premiere. The film was scheduled to be in Chinese theaters on September 30, but a few days earlier, on the September 27, producers pulled it from theaters, claiming to be rescheduling, although without a date, to “improve the special effects.”
Starring actor/singer Wang Yibo, the film focuses on a group of elite pilots in the People’s Liberation army air force, who train on the Chengdu J-20, China’s most advanced fighter jet. Director Liu Xiaoshi recreated scenes with fighter planes zipping around piloted by haughty Chinese youths, as seen in the trailer.
Given the great similarity with the successful “Top Gun: Maverick,” some internet users on the Chinese social network, Weibo, criticized the Chinese production, calling the film a plagiarism. The special effects of “Born to Fly” were also the subject of controversy and negative comments, which were described as “bad.”
The Chinese regime has made an effort to promote so-called nationalism, which is nothing more than absolute loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. To celebrate China’s National Day, the CCP gave citizens a week off, the “Golden Week.” Everyone is expected to attend all communist events and propaganda film screenings, and “Born to Fly” was part of the schedule.
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ broke off relations with the Chinese regime
Remember that the globally successful American film “Top Gun: Maverick” broke all box office records and placed as the top film of 2022, grossing $701 million.
However, not everything went well for the American production, which was never released in China. And the fact is that the “Top Gun” sequels go beyond mere entertainment. They arouse American patriotism and the admiration of the rest of the world for the United States.
“Top Gun Maverick” was first financed by the Tencent corporation, very close to the Chinese regime, but later decided to stop the financing to spread a very positive image of the United States. Thus, the famous jacket of the protagonist of the film, played by actor Tom Cruise, could wear, without guilt, the flags of Taiwan and Japan.
This attitude infuriated the Chinese regime, but there was nothing it could do about it, the success of the American film was overwhelming.
Hollywood trades its freedom for funding from CCP
In 1950, then Chinese leader Mao Zedong banned American films throughout China. This situation lasted for several decades until 1990 when, after a change of vision by officials. They allowed certain American productions to be broadcast to Chinese audiences.
Propaganda has always been one of the tools of the Chinese regime to manage information for its benefit, and the film industry is a major market of international influence.
Hollywood’s quest for financing has led it to accept the terms and conditions of the Chinese Communist Party, which has slowly infiltrated productions and introduced “Chinese elements,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Erich Schwartzel.
China has seen how Hollywood has helped sell the U.S. to the world and intends to do the same, Schwartzel argues in the book “Red Carpet: Hollywood, China and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy.”
Schwartzel said, “As China has broadened its ambitions on the world stage and sought to become an increasingly important player in global politics, it has seen how culture can play a very important role in aiding that effort.”
In this way, Communist officials can determine which film will air in China, edit the content, and even ban actors if they make statements against the Chinese regime. Such is the case of Richard Gere, who was blacklisted for his support of the Dalai Lama.
Thus, the Asian giant has become the largest film market in the world, and can determine the success or failure of a film.
In order to conform to the Chinese regime and receive its funding, Hollywood has set aside its principles of freedom. However, the film “Top Gun: Maverick” has shown Hollywood that there is no need to betray its convictions for money, and that if it returns to those values, the same ones that catapulted it as the mecca of cinema, it will shine once again.