Top Gun: Maverick's Success Slaps Down Netflix and China

I haven't seen Top Gun: Maverick and I'm not recommending it or any movies in general. But its success is striking in that it brings back the old big-budget movies and box office totals in an industry that has come to be dominated by Disney's Marvel machine and in which theaters are secondary to streamers.

Tom Cruise made a point of refusing to stream Top Gun: Maverick and it seems to have paid off by bringing audiences back to theaters. Based on the trailer, it also appears to be light on the overt wokeness that has engulfed the industry.

And, after saying "No" to Netflix, the movie has shockingly made a very big gesture to China.

Classic '80s action flick Top Gun is back with a sequel. But for all its soaring aerial maneuvers, the most daring stunt may be a middle finger to China.

To the joy of Taiwanese audiences hitting the theaters this week, Top Gun: Maverick features a prominent shot of the Japanese and Taiwanese flags—national symbols that were scrubbed from a 2019 trailer. 

The flags were initially replaced by random symbols, drawing sharp criticism as an example of Hollywood caving in to China’s political demands. But in a rare U-turn, which has yet to be explained, they have reappeared in the film’s worldwide release. 

It likely had to do with Chinese investors dropping out of the movie, but even so, this is the kind of thing that Chinese authorities will hold a grudge over. I don't know whether they'll retaliate, but everyone involved is likely to have trouble getting future movies cleared.

So it's a courageous move that will come with a price.

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