Warner Bros. Developing Chinese Remakes of ‘Miss Congeniality,’ ‘Blended’
China is currently, as the jazz cats of old would say, where it’s at. Efforts to best capitalize on the robust East Asian markets have guided Hollywood decision making in all sorts of subtle ways — DreamWorks’ insistence on continuing the Kung Fu Panda franchise into perpetuity, for instance, or the casting of Tony Jaa in Fast and Furious 7, a franchise with plenty of overseas appeal. China’s got the money, everyone wants it, but translating all that yuan to U.S. dollars can be complex. Predicting public taste is difficult, and predicting the taste of a populace on the other side of the planet is practically rocket science. But Flagship Entertainment, the new joint Asian-production venture from Warner Bros. and China Media Capital, has now pinpointed a can’t-fail strategy for total domination on the battleground of the Chinese cineplex: Adam goddamn Sandler.
Deadline revealed Flagship’s debut slate of 12 planned feature films to be released in the years to come, including a couple of titles that may be familiar to American readers. Alongside fiscal drama Chinese Wall Street and the English-language big-budget tentpole MEG (which is about the prehistoric shark known as Megalodon, and not noted actress Meg Ryan), a pair of remakes of American studio films will be sold to Chinese viewers. Sandra Bullock comedy vehicle Miss Congeniality — or as it will be called, if my research is correct, Xiaojie Congeniality — will send a frumpy but effective FBI agent deep undercover in the high-gloss world of beauty pageantry, but this time, in China. No word yet on who the Chinese equivalent of Bullock will be, but the East Asian preoccupation with propriety and social manners should keep the humor of this film intact.
The other U.S. film to be remade for Chinese consumption is Blended, the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore romantic comedy that isn’t anterograde-amnesia laugh riot 50 First Dates. The critically reviled but commercially successful romcom placed the mismatched pair in Africa with their brood of children to fall in love with a comfortable backdrop of imperialism. Why Warner Bros. would select these two films as their first forays into Chinese entertainment, we’ll never know. Maybe Chinese viewers love implausible comic contrivances?