Hollywood’s success with its latest box office wonder The Martian (which grossed $55 million in its opening weekend alone) offers a signpost to where American entertainment is heading—not to Mars, but to China. American blockbusters make millions in the Chinese market—the world’s second largest by box office, after America—and Chinese financing is pouring into Hollywood itself.
As American comedian Stephen Colbert pointed out, there’s a clue to the importance of that market in the movie plot itself, which includes a twist involving the Republic of China’s space program (without any major spoilers):
Bending plots to the needs of a Chinese audience is understandable, Colbert says, because everyone is eager for some of “those sweet and sour renminbi”—including Colbert himself. The comedian announced that he plans to launch Pander Express, his own “attempt to suck up to the Chinese censors.”
Colbert goes on to celebrate Chinese inventions such as the compass and gunpowder, jokingly berate the Dalai Lama, and ask millennials to tweet at Colbert with the hashtag #Filialpietyisthechiefofallvirtues (whenever Twitter is allowed back in the country).
Colbert then tucks into a bowl of spicy and tingly lamb face salad (eaten, as one viewer commented on YouTube, with impressive mastery of chopstick skills), and proceeds to nearly choke on a bite of lamb, before his life is saved by a Chinese doctor… who it turns out is also an astronaut, and ends the segment in Mandarin, encouraging all 1.4 billion Chinese people to watch the Late Show.