Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

One of President Xi Jinping’s most powerful tools for increasing China’s influence is Hollywood.

The bottom line: The Chinese film market is massive and growing — and Hollywood studios are willing to play by the Communist Party’s censorship rules to access that market. Now China is using Hollywood tactics to take its market for itself.

The leverage

The Chinese market is as crucial to U.S. film studios — 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Disney, Sony pictures, etc — as it is to any other U.S. industry.

  • China's box office has grown from $863 million in 2000 to almost $8 billion today  and the country is adding around 25 theater screens per day.
  • It's the top international box office outside the U.S., making $5.9 billion more than Japan, which comes in second, according to IHS Markit. American studios make a small percentage of box office receipts from movies shown in China, but that‘s still a big part of revenue.
  • The total U.S. box office was $11 billion in 2017, making up 27% of total, global box office dollars.

The China effect: At times, Hollywood studios will even create and alter content to appeal to Chinese consumers and avoid censorship by the Communist Party.

  • The result is that, often, “Hollywood films make a better case for China than China’s own films do,” Stanley Rosen, an expert on Chinese society at the University of Southern California, tells Axios.
  • For example: In a remake of the 1984 cult classic “Red Dawn,” the studio swapped out Chinese villains for North Korean ones at the last minute to avoid China’s ire. This is typical, Rosen says. You’ll rarely see Chinese bad guys in Hollywood productions.
  • If a film bothers the Party, the government will not only ban the film, but also ban the studio itself from showing future films in China. Those bans are so difficult to deal with that Disney once hired Henry Kissinger to help win back Chinese trust, says Rosen.
  • And U.S. films praise the Chinese as well. In the John Cusack film “2012,” the actor Oliver Platt remarks on the speed of technological advancement in China, saying, “Leave it to the Chinese.”
The takeover

Chinese firms have long been investors in Hollywood studios, and lawmakers are starting to see their investments as avenues to spread Chinese influence, Rosen says.

  • U.S. senators have challenged bids for American studios by Dalian Wanda Group, a Chinese real estate conglomerate. In a letter, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote: "I am concerned that these acquisitions reflect the strategic goals of China’s government and may not be receiving sufficient review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States."
  • Chinese tech giant Tencent is co-financing the production of the upcoming "Terminator" film and taking over its distribution in Asia.
  • Yes, but: These investments have started to plateau, and some major deals have been cancelled. Still, while the U.S. government can curb Chinese investment in American studios, it has little control over the market leverage China has over Hollywood.

And now China is upping investment in producing its own Chinese movies — but not without leveraging Hollywood's tactics. It's been fairly successful.

  • The recent Chinese blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2, a patriotic movie about a Chinese soldier rescuing Chinese nationals from conflict in Africa, broke records by bringing in $780 million.
    • One big reason why the film was successful was the Hollywood help it received. Marvel's Russo brothers traveled to China with their stunt team to help with production.
  • Not only is China making its own popular films, the Chinese government also censors foreign movies and even holds country-wide blackout days when only Chinese movies can be shown in theaters.

What to watch: China could threaten the film industry with quotas in response to U.S. tariffs, according t0 Axios media trends reporter Sara Fischer.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.