MGM’s upcoming remake of Red Dawn was supposed to hit theaters in 2010, but the studio’s well-documented bankruptcy saga effectively put all of the projects they had in the pipeline on hold.

Since its recent restructuring, MGM has pushed high-profile projects like The Hobbit, Bond 23, and the RoboCop reboot back into development – but there’s been no official confirmation of when films that were completed before the company filed for Chapter 11 will be released.

Red Dawn will likely hit theaters at some point this year, but the film (which wrapped production in 2009) has one more significant alteration to undergo before it will be ready to hit theaters. The original 1984 film featured a group of  small-town teenagers in America’s heartland taking a stand against Soviet invaders – but with the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, producers initially decided that Chinese assailants would be more appropriate for the remake.

According to the LA Times, the filmmakers have decided to change the villains yet again. Instead of the Chinese,  North Korean soldiers will now invade the U.S. in the Red Dawn remake. The switch was made in an effort to give the film greater box office appeal in China – which has become one of the most profitable markets for American movies.

Around the time MGM first delayed the release of Red Dawn, a Chinese newspaper called the Global Times expressed concerns that the film would demonize their state and its citizens (thanks in part to certain leaked images from the set). Evidently, this may have been a factor in scaring off potential distributors who were apprehensive about what effect their involvement with the film would have on future dealings with China.

So without any official complaints from the Chinese government, MGM will spend $1 million to construct a new opening sequence, re-edit several scenes, and digitally change Chinese symbols into Korean. It may sound somewhat ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is that the studio really had no alternative. If the film fails to secure distribution, it could wind up going straight to video – or being permanently shelved.

The cast of the 'Red Dawn' remake

Interestingly, the video game Homefront (which was written by John Milius, the screenwriter of the original Red Dawn) recently underwent a similar change – THQ decided to swap out the game’s Chinese invaders for North Korean forces instead.

Even though China currently only permits around 20 non-Chinese films to be released there each year, they’re still the fifth largest box office market outside of the United States. Had Red Dawn opened in its original incarnation, many believe that a backlash would have been inevitable and that the film’s premise was flawed and problematic from the start.

Producer Tripp Vinson believes that the changes will make the Red Dawn remake “smarter and more dangerous”, but I have to admit that the idea of North Korea invading the U.S. seems a bit more farfetched to me. However, this is obviously a business decision above all else and it sounds like without these alterations, Red Dawn might never see the light of day.

Source: LA Times.