Tom Cruise’s Top Gun sequel Maverick scored a huge success as it kicked off the summer movie season, grossing 248 million dollars in its first weekend worldwide. By the fourth day after its release, that number exceeded 300 million dollars. It has already earned roughly three-quarters of its production cost.

Besides the adrenaline rush from a compilation of top-flight writers, producers, scores, and cast, the movie is being hailed for another reason: it’s an example of China having no grip on Hollywood.

Tom Cruise’s character kept Taiwan’s flag on the iconic bomber jacket after Tencent, a Chinese tech and entertainment giant, withdrew from the project and, along the way, stopped its funding. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Tencent was to spend 170 million dollars on the Paramount Pictures production until they grew wary of the Chinese Communist Party’s reaction to the movie. 

The Washington Post contributing columnist Sonny Bunch noted in an op-ed on June 1 that Top Gun was able to thrive without [quote] “making a single penny in China.” [end quote]

Bunch added, [quote] “It’s about time American studios recalibrated their priorities to be less reliant on Chinese censors and Chinese moviegoers.” [end quote]

Previously, Hollywood has frequently appeased Beijing’s demand for sensitive content to gain access to and benefit from the lucrative Chinese market. For example, CNBC reported that last year, Fast & Furious” actor John Cena had to apologize in Mandarin for referring to Taiwan as a country.

With Top Gun, Bunch viewed the decision to include the Taiwanese flag [quote] “earned the picture some goodwill with American audiences who have grown tired of having their blockbusters defaced by Chinese censors.” [end quote]

The Washington Post op-ed said it was not the first time Hollywood had record success after denouncing Beijing’s content dictates.

“Spiderman: No Way Home” kept the Statue of Liberty against China’s wish to have it censored. It earned 1.8 billion dollars. 

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” featured an Epoch Times newspaper box. The Epoch Times is known for its uncensored coverage of current affairs in China. Unfortunately, the second-largest world economy kept it from entering the mainland, but the movie nonetheless earned almost 900 million dollars worldwide.

Bunch contends that continuous growth in this way will enable American film companies to “reclaim the moral high ground as champions of American values at home and the outlaw quality that makes Hollywood a beacon in unfree societies.”

When Top Gun was unmoved by the lost funds from China, Chris Fenton, a Hollywood executive, said, “I think it’s a fantastic case study in what we could do by protecting freedom of creativity which is something that Hollywood is supposed to stand for.”

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