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April 16, 2012 - Iron Man 3 / movie will be a Chinese co-production

Scooped on Monday, April 23, 2012

Iron Man 3 will be a co-production between investors in China and America. The news that the Walt Disney Company China, DMG Entertainment and Marvel Studios will co-produce the third in Robert Downey Jr.'s superhero series was announced today by Disney.

First, here's what the suits had to say in their press release:

"The popularity of the Marvel franchise globally creates a huge opportunity to deliver fans yet another action packed film,” said Stanley Cheung, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China. “The co-production of Iron Man 3 in China is testimony to the importance of this audience to Disney and the local industry capability to deliver a blockbuster title,” Cheung added.

“We look forward to working alongside DMG to bring Iron Man to the Chinese marketplace in a significant way. We are confident that Marvel’s stories will continue to be enjoyed by Chinese audiences, and adding a local flavor, and working with our new local partner, will enhance the appeal and relevance of our characters in China’s fast-growing film marketplace,” said Rob Steffens, the General Manager of Operations and Finance for Marvel Studios.

“Our collaboration with Disney and Marvel marks a milestone in the global entertainment landscape, as this signifies the first multi-billion dollar franchise to be produced between Hollywood and China,” said Dan Mintz, CEO of DMG Entertainment (the company with the rights to distribute the sequel in China.) “The Iron Man franchise has been a major success worldwide, and we look forward to pushing the series to new heights with Iron Man 3. The movie will further build upon its compelling storyline, and feature the hottest A-list stars, and spectacular action, which will resonate well both globally and in China, the second largest box office market in the world.”

OK, so what does it mean? Well, with Chinese money coming into the production of Iron Man 3, that means the movie will have unfettered access for the country's residents. China has a troubled history with western movies and has censored characters, events and dialogue from Hollywood movies in their Chinese release. (For example, a reference to the Cold War was removed from the Chinese release of Casino Royale.) With Chinese financial involvement it will most certainly make it easier for a more favored presentation of China to be seen in Iron Man 3.

Here's the bigger speculation: does Chinese "approval" mean that we will or won't see the character of The Mandarin appear in Iron Man 3? With last week's announcement that Ben Kingsley deal was all but done to appear as the main bad guy in the film, at the time it was said that Kingsley would not be playing Mandarin. The villain's name is considered by some to be borderline racist, so if Kingsley were to play The Mandarin it's likely that the character would be heavily modified for his Iron Man movie universe incarnation and likely also renamed.

Iron Man 3 is being directed by Shane Black and has booked a May 3, 2013 release date.

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