Cinema world pulls films deemed sensitive after Japanese quake

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The Independent Culture

The international film world has responded quickly to the obvious sensitivities surrounding the Japan earthquake, and it remains to be seen just how the disaster affects the release of films already finished and those planned for production.

Immediately following the devastation caused when the 9.0 earthquake hit last Friday, the sci-fi actioner Battle: Los Angeles was pulled from Japanese cinemas, as was Clint Eastwood's latest film, Hereafter, which had been screening since February. Eastwood's film opens with a recreation of the 2004 tsunami which swept across Asia.

Plans have been shelved to internationally release Chinese director's Feng Xiaogang's Aftershock - about the 1976 Tangshan earthquake - which had been marked down for March 26 distribution, while this week's scheduled release of the Anthony Hopkins horror The Rite has also been postponed.

It remains to be seen just how hard the disaster affects the Japanese film market overall, which according to industry estimates now accounts for around 10 percent of all international ticket sales, and earned more than US$2.5 billion (1.8 billion euros) last year. Film industry media has this week been debating just what films will now be deemed as suitable for screening in Japan over the remainder of 2011 as the country recovers from the disaster.

In other news from Asia's cinematic world, the growing influence of the Chinese audience is being cited by many for the announcement this week that the remake of the 1984 action flick Red Dawn has changed its villains from Chinese to North Korean.

What's more, it appears the changes are being made digitally to the film, which has been sitting on the shelves since it was completed in 2009 due to financial troubles at the MGM studio.

China's movie market is the fastest growing in the world and last year hit an all-time high with sales soaring to more than US$1.5 billion (one billion euros), a rise of 64 percent year on year.