Hollywood may have just learned that doing business in China is loaded with political land mines.
Activists are calling on Relativity Media and the writers of "The Hangover," to distance themselves from a local government that has extra-legally imprisoned a blind human-rights lawyer and his family for more than a year. After the studio put out a press release last week trumpeting its new buddy flick, "21 and Over," being filmed in Linyi, China, a firestorm erupted over the studio's relationship with Linyi's local government. That same government has kept rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who was initially arrested for his role exposing government-forced abortions among local women, in a home prison since his release from jail last year. Journalists and activists who have tried to visit Chen in his village in Linyi have met with repeated violence and intimidation from a round-the-clock gang of thugs who guard the entire village.
Somehow, Relativity Media missed all this background when it forged a partnership with Linyi's Communist Party secretary and agree to film part of it's coming-of-age buddy movie there, starring . The website "Artists Speak Out," urged the movie crew, including writers Jon Lucas and Scott More, to travel 30 miles to try to visit Chen, then speak out about what happened to them.
"All attempts to visit Chen Guangcheng — and there have been many — have been rebuffed by thugs probably in the pay of local security forces," the group said. "We don’t expect Lucas and Moore will fare any better. However, with their stature in the entertainment industry, a report by them about how they were treated can only serve to help Chen Guangcheng as his supporters battle the flagrant and criminal violation of his human rights."
A blurb from August in the LA Times says the company's deal with a local film company would give it access to the domestic movie market.