Hollywood has been known for bending over backwards to appease the notoriously strict Chinese censorship board given the country’s status as the fastest-growing market for cinema, and that’ll only become more true as the domestic theatrical industry tries to find its feet again following the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
We’ve already seen Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter get pulled from the nation’s theaters after a joke was deemed culturally offensive, while the backlash towards Disney’s Mulan remake resulted in a media blackout that’s partly responsible for the movie bombing. The Fast & Furious franchise, meanwhile, is massively popular in China, with the ninth installment having already made over $150 million despite only releasing on Friday, but star John Cena has now had to issue an apology in fluent Mandarin for comments he made in a promotional interview.
The wrestler-turned-actor said that Taiwan was the first country to see the latest installment in the blockbuster series, which sparked an uproar in China, as it considers the self-governing island state as part of its territory. The last thing Universal or Cena want is for people to start threatening a boycott of Fast & Furious 9 or see it pulled from theaters entirely, so his response arrived in rapid time.
John Cena originally learned the language when the WWE was trying to gain a foothold with Chinese fans a few years back, and it was agreed that having the biggest name in the company being able to speak Mandarin would be of a huge benefit. It’s now been a bonus outside of the ring for Fast & Furious 9, though, with the 44 year-old able to apologize to the locals in their own tongue, which at least prevents it from having that cynical corporate sheen of nothing but pure damage limitation.