Global weapons dealer Tony Stark might be comfortable doing business with just about anyone whose checks clear. Disney is about to find out whether Robert Downey Jr. is just as blasé.
Vulture got down to business about the business between Chinese investors and the upcoming Iron Man 3.
As China has become more and more of an economic juggernaut, its influence in Hollywood has followed suit. Walt Disney Co., who owns Marvel Studios film Iron Man 3 will now be a co-production with Chinese media company DMG. But there could be a major problem since that movie’s star, Robert Downey Jr. — a self-described “Jew-Bu,” or Jewish Buddhist — is one of the world’s more famous practitioners of the faith.
What remains to be seen is whether Disney’s sudden embrace of China on a third Iron Man will put it at odds with Downey Jr., who has often attended pro-Tibet events in the past and what that might mean for the movie’s marketing within China. Downey Jr.’s spokesman, Alan Nierob, said that he was unclear whether Downey Jr. had yet heard of the DMG deal, as the actor was en route to Russia for an Avengers junket.
For years, anyone who criticized the Chinese government’s egregious human-rights violations in Tibet — no matter how famous, and in some cases,especially if they were famous — was quickly added to a blacklist of those no longer permitted to enter China and/or Tibet. After starring in the 1997 film Seven Years in Tibet, Brad Pitt was reportedly banned for life from entering the Chinese mainland for the sin of portraying the young Dalai Lama in a positive light. Director Martin Scorsese was banned from entering Tibet for making Kundun, a film about the early life of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese invasion of the spiritual leader’s homeland in 1950. And after Harrison Ford — himself also a committed Buddhist — spoke before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1995 to support Tibetan rights, the Chinese government banned the actor from ever visiting, too.
With Iron Man 3 filming in China later this year, this will be a story to keep an eye on.