MGM Doesn’t Want RED DAWN Remake to Piss Off China; Will Piss Off North Korea Instead

     March 16, 2011


The upcoming remake of the 1984 action flick Red Dawn had changed the lead communist villain from Russia to China.  But MGM, the studio behind the remake, has concluded that China, commie as they may be, still offers the possibility of lucrative international box office.  With this in mind, the studio is making it so that the country who invades the U.S. this time around is…North Korea.  The LA Times reports:

The filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from “Red Dawn,” substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake.

Hit the jump for more on this silly change.  The remake of Red Dawn stars Chris Hemsworth, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

red-dawn-remake-posterAccording to the LA Times, MGM has begun showing the film to potential buyers at other studios, but executives are reportedly concerned that they can’t risk picking it up because of the potential blowback from China, which raked in $1.5 billion for studios in international box office revenue last year.

In the remake, teenagers in Spokane, Washington team up to fight an invading force comprised of Russia and China (because Russia is still secretly communist, apparently).  But now, MGM will spend less than a $1 million to play up the involvement of North Korea in the battle:

People close to the picture said the changes will cost less than $1 million and involve changing an opening sequence summarizing the story’s fictional backdrop, re-editing two scenes and using digital technology to transform many Chinese symbols to Korean. It’s impossible to eliminate all references to China, the people said, though the changes will give North Korea a much larger role in the coalition that invades the U.S.

I wonder if the film will try to gloss over the fact that people from China and North Korea have different facial structures.   At least in MGM’s desire to not piss off China, they’re willing to basically say “Yeah, Americans can’t tell Asians apart anyway and hopefully U.S. audiences are stupid enough to think that North Korea has more power than China.”  I suppose the new opening sequence will have to explain how in this alternate universe, China follows North Korea’s lead in an invasion of the U.S.  Also, North Korea isn’t communist.  It’s a military dictatorship, but pish-posh on those details. [Correction: The U.S. State Department says North Korea is a “Highly centralized communist state,” while China is a “Communist party-led state”.  My bad.]

My confusion stems from the fact that if you pull the invading force so far out of reality, then why bother making them a real country at all?  The original Red Dawn played on real Cold War fears, and today there’s a legitimate concern about China’s treatment of its citizens and how much of our debt they hold.  North Korea, on the other hand, is an irritating distraction on the world stage every time its leader throws a tantrum and scares the bejeezus out of South Korea and Japan.

Mike Vollman, executive vice president of worldwide marketing tells the LA Times,

“MGM has been working with the film ‘Red Dawn’s’ director and producers to make the most commercially viable version of the film for audiences worldwide.  We want to ensure the most people possible are able to experience it.”*

*Except for North Koreans.

Around The Web
  • swans183

    Say goodbye to any chance of this movie actually being possible/intriguing from a future world events perspective. MGM should grow a pair and try to make a good, risky movie, instead of aiming for the lowest common denominator.

  • edmzen

    Agreed! North Korea invades the US?! They can barely manage their own country half the time and now you want us to believe they’re a threat to the US?! Wow. There goes any realism out the window…

  • Big John

    This is lame, just release the flick already. More and more it looks like Kevin Smith was right, they spend more time and money marketing and finessing the product than actually making a decent picture. No matter how many changes they make, when it’s released it’ll make it’s $30M opening weekend and move along down the road.

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  • –LL–

    As a second generation Chinese American man, I for one am frankly relieved for myself and my children that the producers decided not to make “Chinese people” the enemy. This kind of film does nothing but propagate stereotypical and hateful attitudes which inevitably leads to racist taunting in schools and streets.

    I know, I have been called out more times than I would like to remember as a child and teen just by “being there”, whether at a Metallica concert, or when I was pitching for little league, or a party at my own frat house, or vacationing with my parents…you get the picture. Believe me dude, it really sucked.

    You seem incredulous that producers of Red Dawn 2 have figured out that this movie is just plain offensive to Chinese people and people of Chinese heritage. I find it just as incredulous that you have taken the time to express your disapproval that the Chinese aren’t the bad guys this time around.

    • Loki

      LL don’t back slide on what you said at least own it dude. I am South Korean and went through the samething you described growing up. But to say that some how it’s going to so much easier for your kids that it’s N Korea portrayed as the bad guys in a remakeof this movie is stipid. Last I checked unless your going to send your kids out of the house with little chinese flag patches on their shirts or a sign that states they are chinese. People will see an Asian that was the bad guys in a movie they just watched. Are you saying that growing up people you didn’t know could see that you were chinese ? I was called or identified as any race that had black hair and slanted eyes. I can’t tell the difference between a black person from S Africa or black person from the Congo can you ? If your truley worried about protecting the kids from negative BS from this movie they need platic surgery and hair lightened without that we’re all in the same boat the evil race of Japs, Chinks, & crazy slant eyed Koreans north , south don’t matter. Own what you say cause I approve what I am saying no matter if its politically correct or not it’s life and racisim will always be around the corner. Bottom line it’s a movie

  • FromTheLandOfGorch

    So LL let me get this straight… Being offensive to Chinese people and heritage is bad… But being offensive to north Korean people and heritage is good… Just making sure we’re on the same page here.


  • –LL–

    The page I am on is this, any kind of racism is not cool.

    As a Chinese American, I can talk directly about my personal feelings about a movie involving my heritage – that doesn’t mean I agree with racist attitudes towards any other peoples.

    Personally I have super close friends from all walks of life, not because I have gone out of the way to do so – just because most people are great because of how they act and not how they are born, and that is how I am teaching my children.

    As an adult and parent, if I can spare my child or any child the lameness of racism in any way, I am happy.

  • Stinky

    Goldberg is right on.

    Are we really at the point where our fiction has to be censored?

    I get that studios are pandering monetarily to China. But this just wreaks of typical head-up-their-ass mentality that is exhibited by non-creative “executives” that have dollar signs in their eyes and shit for brains.

    No matter what filmmakers do, someone is going to be offended. Chinese folk will say that it perpetuates stereotypes, blah, blah, blah. There is no yawn large enough to express my complete lack of empathy for your tired PC rhetoric.

    If I were Chinese, I would be more offended by my peoples portrayal in the Rush Hour series. Those movies were terrible.

  • Stinky

    So, in a work of fiction, having people from a certain country as the antongist is now racist?

    What is the alternative?

    Every film villain from here on is some androgynous, culture-less, mauve skinned, hairless, amorphous blob of average height and weight from a unnamed land?

    I hope the Red Dawn people not only keep the Chinese as-is, they make them gay albino dwarfs, too. Let’s really piss people off.

    • Ms. LaReina

      As a gay person, I find your comment extremely offensive, Stinky. LGBT are a protecte group and if you aren’t sure of that just call me the F word on YouTube on one of my videos and see how you’re gone from YT in a day.

  • Rockslide

    Quite ridiculous. I agree with those that say, if you really aren’t willing to use China then at least make up some country before trying to imply North Korea holds any threat of physical invasion. Unless they all come over in some kind of super-exoskeleton suits, I’d have to say that Doom’s Latveria hold’s more believability as an invading force.

  • Truth

    N. Korea is a communist country. Please do more thorough research. It is one of the five remaining communist countries in the world.

  • Bigglesworth

    interesting. so basically this is now Homefront (video game released 3/15/11) which was written by the guy who penned the original Red Dawn.

  • FromTheLandOfGorch

    LL, you avoided what I said, you’re glad the filmakers changed the “racism” from Chinese to Korean. All they’ve done is turned in form of “racism” for “another” and you clearly weren’t bothered by it in your first post (openly praising the filmakers for doing so actually) and you completly ignored the point in your second. Hypocrite much?

  • –LL–

    LandofGorch, if I am a hypocrite, then I guess that would make you legalistic.

  • Angmal

    China is a superpower, and they do have a pretty shocking track record as far as human rights and environmental damage are concerned, right? They’re a more plausible ‘bad guy’ for sure.

    Although I can understand why someone of that ethnicity would be anxious about their heritage being caricatured in such a way, the simple fact of life is that kids will always bully other kids and one film is not going to have much impact on an ignorant child’s ingrained fear of anything ‘different’. It’s not confined to race and religion; if you’re overweight or gay or introverted, school will be hell for you too.

  • Excpired

    Too be honest it is more unlikely that China would attack us than North Korea, precisely for the reason that they control our debt. If they attack us they lose so much capital that it would damn near sink their country (assuming they could even win), and if they lost on top of it we’d never pay them back.

    Now that doesn’t mean North Korea is capable of attacking us or that Russia/China would go along with an attack. I think a much more interesting approach would be to have a coalition force including South American nations invading from the south; although unlikely it would be easier for a nation or group of nations connected to us to attack us in our own land.

    Kind of cool that this movie is taking place in Washington since that is my home state. :]

  • swoosh

    hahaha, america really has fallen so low. What is worse than a coward racist?

  • phoenix

    I saw screw the re-make, this was bad idea from the beginning.

    • Michael

      Yes, indeed.
      From the beginning, I’ve been saying this was a bad idea. Beyond being yet another unnecessary remake, it’s also one that will stir racial animosity towards Chinese people and, by extension, Asian people in general in America.

      And to all those people here who are just poo-pooing people who have experienced racism in America, which can and is whipped up into more of a fever by these type of movies, I find it amusing and annoying how you guys speak of things that don’t affect you in anywhere near the same way as it does minorities. Why speak of things that you know nothing about?

      I’m not going to sit here and try to enlighten you, because it’s a waste of time trying to discuss things with people who, in their own self-interest, don’t care to acknowledge or accept that racism is alive and well in America, and white people are still the biggest benefactors of it. It’s called white privilege. And that same lofty sense of white privilege and arrogance is deeply blended into every assertion by white people that Asians and other minorities should just “get over it.” How convenient and easy it must be for people who do not experience nationally supported racism in America to tell those who do to “get over it.” But most whites are so oblivious to it, they do not see the irony or ignorance in their dismissive statements.

      • Angmal

        Michael, I think you’re giving the filmmakers too much credit. I’ll be stunned if this shitty-looking film is a hit. It’s highly unlikely to have much if any cultural impact, so don’t worry about it. It’ll disappear onto DVD before you know it.

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  • edmzen

    Well I can tell you I’ve hated Cubans and Russians ever since I viewed the original movie as a child! *rolling my eyes* PLEASE, it’s a movie!

    It’s not about being racist or propagating stereotypes. The PLAUSIBILITY of China invading us, for whatever reason, is much higher than North Korea. By your logic ANYONE that is the aggressor in this movie would be targets for some misguided patriotism by some moviegoer hopped up on popcorn butter and gut busting soda. So maybe we should exclude every nationality on the planet and make thme aliens… oh wait, that’s “Battle L.A.”

  • edmzen

    Well I can tell you I’ve hated Cubans and Russians ever since I viewed the original movie as a child! *rolling my eyes* PLEASE, it’s a movie!

    It’s not about being racist or propagating stereotypes. The PLAUSIBILITY of China invading us, for whatever reason, is much higher than North Korea. By your logic ANYONE that is the aggressor in this movie would be targets for some misguided patriotism by some moviegoer hopped up on popcorn butter and gut busting soda. So maybe we should exclude every nationality on the planet and make them aliens… oh wait, that’s “Battle L.A.”

  • LK

    No MGM doesnt want to piss off China, but they dont seem to mind pissing off folks in the US. The smart thing for MGM would be to market two versions of the film. Release the unedited Chinese villian version in the US, and then release the north korean version in China. Most people will ignore the so-called
    north korean updated version in the US, because everyone knows that MGM sold out to the wishes of China.
    Do the right thing MGM, release two version of this film.
    Go to Red Dawn 2011 and look at the poll of which version would most people like to see China version or north korean version.
    Over a thousand so far for the China version
    around three hundred for the NK version.
    MGM give the moviegoers in the US what they want, not what you think they need. Two versions would be the right way to go.

  • Jerry

    Before we all jump the gun here. Lets read this again.
    ” Changes WILL NOT eliminate all references to CHINA though will give north korea a much larger role in the coalition that invades the US.” Sounds like China will still be in this film, its just they will be toned down some, with the north koreans getting more screentime. So the north koreans will be to the chinese in the remake what the cubans where to the Soviets in the original?? I like many dont like the idea of the changes being made. But what how will the plot be changed. For this film to be credible north korea cant be the lone invader, tagging along with the chinese and russians however thickens the plot and would make the film more interesting to moviegoers. I do know that the Russians are in this film in the form of spetnanz commando units and they do have a run in or two with the wolverines. I guess China will play more of a background role with the changes being made. I also know that both the east and west coast are invaded. so it would take alot more than north koreans for that scenario to happen. MGM dont make this film Homefront the movie, if you do the film will be a boxoffice failure.

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  • Truth

    Well its now August of 2011 and still no word on if and when Red Dawn remake will be released. Even with the changes from China to North Koreans/coalition invaders. Someone from MGM needs to let people know when this film will hit theaters, they also need to talk more of the plot.

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  • beijing shots

    in the movie north korea is invading countries. in real life, america is doing all the invading