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'Total Recall': Did Sony Appease China With Scene Changes?

The Australia setting of the film's worker colony has a distinctly Asian feel.

"Total Recall"
"Total Recall"

This story first appeared in the Aug. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Viewers of Sony's sci-fi remake Total Recall might wonder why the Australia setting of the film's worker colony has a distinctly Asian feel to it.

Sources say the dingy, teeming metropolis was located in "New Asia" in the shooting script by Mark Bomback and Kurt Wimmer, but the location (dubbed "The Colony") was later downplayed by the studio and director Len Wiseman without needing significant reshoots. In addition, the film's transglobal elevator centerpiece, which moves Colin Farrell and co-stars from the United Federation of Britain to The Colony in mere minutes, was originally called "The China Fall" but was renamed the more apolitical "The Fall."

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Why? One source tells THR that Sony made the changes so as not to anger the powerful China Film Group, the government-backed entity that maintains a huge say over which Hollywood movies play in the lucrative market.

Sony has enjoyed a cozy relationship with the CFG. The entities teamed on 2010's The Karate Kid reboot and are in business together for a planned Kung Fu Hustle 2. Still, as the Los Angeles Times reported recently, even as China has committed to allowing more foreign movies into the country's expanding multiplexes, the CFG has been ramping up its efforts to limit the box-office dominance of American blockbusters. For instance, major titles such as The Dark Knight Rises and Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man have been slated to open very close to each other this year.  

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Sony and reps for the director and writers declined comment on the Total Recall revisions, but a source close to the film says the Chinese had nothing to do with the changes. The CFG has not announced a China release date for Total Recall, which has grossed a soft $44 million domestic after two weeks of release.

Email: Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

Twitter: @THRMattBelloni