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Film casts Tibetan man as a woman

Associated Press Associated Press 27/04/2016

A Tibetan male character from the "Doctor Strange" comic books presented such a political minefield to Marvel, that in the film version they cast a Caucasian woman in the role.

The move reflects the pressures Hollywood movie makers perceive when trying to appeal to the Chinese market.

One of the film's screenwriters has suggested that the casting of British actress Tilda Swinton as sorcerer the Ancient One was partly done to avoid potentially offending China's government and moviegoers, who now represent the world's second-largest annual box office after North America.

Although some online commentators criticized the casting of a white woman rather than a Tibetan actor, the film's backers apparently didn't want to risk losing out on Chinese distribution by introducing the highly politically charged subject of Tibet.

While the Ancient One was written in the comic book as Tibetan, "if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he's Tibetan, you risk alienating 1 billion people," screenwriter C. Robert Cargill said in a podcast interview with the Texas-based DoubleToasted.com.

There was, Cargill said, a risk of "the Chinese government going, 'Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We're not going to show your movie because you decided to get political."'

Hollywood producers are increasingly attempting to woo the Chinese audience and government with China-friendly story lines and Chinese actors. Only a limited number of Hollywood films are allowed into China each year and those dealing with political or social topics frowned upon by the ruling Communist Party are doomed to miss the cut.

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