Book review: Red Carpet – How Hollywood gambled big on not upsetting China

A new book lays bare the complex picture of the US film industry’s relationship with the Asian superpower

Tom Cruise and Michelle Monaghan filming in Shanghai in the film Mission Impossible III: scenes that included underwear drying on clothes lines had to be deleted for the Chinese censors. Picture: Getty

In May 2021, the actor and professional wrestler John Cena filmed himself issuing a grovelling apology to the Chinese. His crime? Referring to Taiwan as a country and not as part of China.

Erich Schwartzel’s new book is the colourful history of how China-Hollywood relations got to this ludicrous point. It’s the story of how Hollywood kowtowed to China, “a market too big to ignore and too lucrative to anger”.

Since China started to allow ...