A multi-billion dollar Chinese tech company pulled out of financing the new smash sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” because it was worried about angering Communist Party officials due to the film’s overtly pro-American theme, according to a report.
In 2019, Tencent Holdings gave a commitment to Paramount Pictures that it would provide financial backing for the film in which Tom Cruise reprises his role as hot-shot naval aviator Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
Tencent was expected to help Paramount market the film to domestic audiences in China, where movie executives hoped that the sequel to the 1986 hit “Top Gun” would gross some $80 million.
In exchange for its multi-million dollar investment, Tencent, the internet giant whose holdings include Dozens of Asian startups in the video game, social media, and venture capital spacewas due to receive a 12.5% stake in the film.
But the movie’s celebration of the American military prompted concerns among Tencent executives that the firm could run afoul of Beijing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Tencent’s involvement in the project was doomed in late 2019 as diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorated rapidly over the course of the last three years, the Journal reported.
At the time, Chinese companies were under pressure to swear loyalty to the Communist Party as part of President Xi Jinping’s so-called “anti-corruption crackdown.”
Cruise, 59, still has the star power to headline a major box office smash hit.
In its first three days in North American theaters, the long-in-the-works sequel earned an estimated $124 million in ticket sales, Paramount Pictures said Sunday.
Including international showings, its worldwide total is $248 million.
It was the first time in Cruise’s illustrious acting career that he starred in a film that generated more than $100 million at the box office during opening weekend.
But the film has not yet been approved for screening in China, a country of 1.4 billion people, and it appears Paramount has for the time being given up on its hopes of the movie being shown there.
The Post has reached out to Paramount seeking comment.
American companies, including major Hollywood motion picture studios, have been eager to do business there, but the geopolitical headwinds have complicated the considerably larger situation.
US firms have been criticized for bending over backwards to please Chinese authorities.
The Walt Disney Co. was slammed by conservatives for “whitewashing” Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang after the making of the live action version of “Mulan.”
Paramount Pictures even went so far as to Change the insignia on the bomber jacket worn by Cruise’s character in “Top Gun: Maverick” so as not to run afoul of Chinese censors.
With Post wires