A HOLLYWOOD studio has digitally removed all Chinese villains from one of its action films to avoid antagonising Beijing.

The plot of the film Red Dawn, which has just been released in the US, revolves around a Chinese invasion of America in which a hit squad of teenagers from a high school football team saves the day.

However, when studio bosses at MGM realised the storyline would offend Beijing - jeopardising the film’s chances of making it to the lucrative Chinese market - they hastily set about digitally removing all references to China.

Instead, the villains were made out to be North Korean and all Chinese flags and symbols were replaced with North Korean ones. The film is actually a remake of a 1984 Cold War film of the same name, which starred Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. In that film, the Russians invaded.

China is one of the fastest growing markets for Hollywood movies, despite its cap on the number of films made abroad, and is worth about \$1.5bn (£94m).

Xi Jinping, the new president, is said to be a big fan of Hollywood war films.

Dan Mintz, whose DMG Entertainment is a leading producer and distributor of movies in China, told the LA Times that had the movie gone out in its original form: “There would have been a real backlash.”

He said: “It’s like being invited to a dinner party and insulting the host all night long. There’s no way to look good ... The film itself was not a smart move.”

Beijing has in the past stopped its business dealings with US studios which have criticised its government, notably in the wake of the release of the 1997 film, Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt.

Distributors of the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, are thought to be in negotiations with Beijing over the release of the film in China because the plot involves the torture of a former secret agent by the Chinese.

At present it is not due for release there.                         –GN