"Hollywood really doesn't have a problem with Chinese censorship," he said. "The problem it has is with Chinese unpredictability."
Still, said Stephen Tropiano, professor of screen studies at a Los Angeles-based program run by New York's Ithaca College, American film makers may find that they have little choice but to adapt to the new Chinese reality, particularly as the country's box office take — $2.7 billion in 2012, 60 percent from foreign films — climbs irrevocably past the current U.S./Canada figure of some $10 billion.
Tropiano said there was no doubt that as China's box-office clout increased in coming years, so too would its already substantial ability to influence Hollywood's decisions on film content.
"The bottom line for any studio is what its films do at the box office," he said. "None of them has ever succeeded in taking a moral stand on content. And the Chinese know to exploit this."