Is Christian Bale Damaging His Own Film By Speaking Out Against China?
Christian Bale has been busy making movies that don’t have the words “dark,” “knight” or “rises” in the title. They just don’t receive the same amount of fevered press coverage as Bale’s superhero collaborations with director Christopher Nolan. In fact, a stream of stories surrounding Bale’s The Flowers of War have been relatively negative, setting the Oscar contender film back on its heels as it prepares to open.
Set during the Rape of Nanking in 1937, Zhang Yimou’s Flowers casts Bale as a Westerner who poses as a priest during the heated conflict and ends up fighting to protect a group of women whose lives are being threatened. But as the L.A. Times notes, Bale has been irritating Chinese officials while promoting the expensive production. Specifically, Bale went out of his way to visit a blind lawyer named Chen Guangcheng, an imprisoned political dissident. Bale generated press for the visit, which angered Chinese authorities.
The Times also points out that earlier, Bale slighted China by telling the press it was the opportunity to work with Yimou, and not the chance to film in China, that lured him to the project.
Oh, China. Your feelings are hurt? Don’t worry. Most actors are self-centered creatures who don’t think deeply about what they are saying on the record. So long as the film – which is China’s representative for the Foreign Language Oscar – performs well, producers likely will be willing to let bygones be bygones.
Except, so far, Flowers hasn’t been setting the international box office on fire. The Time reports that the film, which received a substantial marketing push, only earned $23.9 million in its opening weekend, which was below expectations and off the mark it needs to hit if the costly production hopes to break even (or turn a profit).
Did Bale’s actions hurt the film’s chances in China? Possibly. Could the film make up ground in separate foreign territories? Absolutely, and an Oscar win next year would only help. And if Flowers fails to connect, at least Bale has another picture due out next summer that’s bound to help the opinionated actor rebound.
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