Paramount Pictures announced a new partnership with two Chinese firms worth a reported $1 billion on Friday.  The deal demonstrates Hollywood’s continued efforts to make profitable films for both domestic and Chinese viewers, as China represents the second largest movie market on the planet.

It also means China just bought an even larger say in how the world is depicted in American films.

Whereas America utilizes a film rating system in the form of the MPAA (an honestly discriminatory and broken system, but one that isn’t state owned) China utilizes government censors to determine what films are suitable to be shown in theaters across their nation.  Chinese officials can ban a film for any number of reasons, but prominent among them, is if they don’t like the way China is being depicted in the story.  Studios have long been aware of this, and it’s already started to shape the films we watch.

“Iron Man 3” was meant to introduce one of Iron Man’s greatest foes: the Mandarin, but concerns about Chinese censors resulted in the studio choosing Sir Ben Kingsley to play the traditionally Chinese villain, and significant re-writes regarding the character itself (I’ll spare you the spoilers, but comic book nerds know what I’m talking about).

The 2012 remake of “Red Dawn” was actually filmed in its entirety using China as the movie’s primary antagonist, but when it became apparent that the Chinese government wouldn’t permit the movie to be released within their borders, the studios went back and digitally altered every flag to add North Korean insignias, and used voice overs to change any references to China.

“Pixels,” a movie both Adam Sandler and I would like to forget, was originally scripted to include a scene that destroyed the Great Wall of China, but again, issues with Chinese censors led to the scene being omitted.  The Chinese government saw the scene as depicting China as week, despite numerous other landmarks in other nations being destroyed throughout the film.

Most recently, Marvels’ “Doctor Strange” forced the studio to take yet another large departure from Marvel’s source material by moving the location of Strange’s spiritual training from Tibet to Nepal.  Marvel did not want to incite China’s censors to block the film due to questions regarding the sovereignty of Tibet – they also cast a white woman as the traditionally Tibetan character of “The Ancient One,” prompting a backlash among many in the Asian community for “white-washing” the film.

These examples, though far from exhaustive, demonstrate Hollywood’s fear of Chinese censors preventing movies from reaching their markets, but I can imagine that many of you might be thinking, “so what?”  None of the changes were particularly dramatic and one could argue that China has every right to exercise any influence they can on the films they permit to be released within their markets… but my background is in studying mass communications, and I can assure you that American culture will inevitably be effected by the forcefully positive depictions of China we’ll see in the films Hollywood produces.