August 14, 2014 12:00 am JST

The Middle Kingdom goes to the movies

China's box offices are doing record business. Cinemas keep sprouting up around the country. Chinese companies are throwing money at Western filmmakers in exchange for a little screen time for their products. And Hollywood, for its part, is finding all of this irresistible.

     Yet as China and Tinseltown court each other, their cultures are clashing. Beijing's restrictions on speech, coupled with Chinese sponsors' insistence on having their wares shown a certain way, are cramping the style of directors accustomed to artistic license and free expression. Some critics fret that increased collaboration between the two sides will lead to U.S. films becoming propaganda vehicles for the Chinese Communist Party.

     Alarmism? Perhaps. But Hollywood looks destined to rely ever more on the Chinese masses, and that means China's influence on the entertainment industry will only increase.