Then something happened. Legendary Entertainment was bought for $3.5 billion by China’s Wanda Group. And, with that transaction, the nature of The Great Wall changed. Its production was still to be a very modern mix of Chinese and American resources, but it suddenly became a cultural export instead of a cultural import. One of China’s most fêted filmmakers — Zhang Yimou, the man behind Hero (2002) and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics — was signed up to direct it. Matt Damon was brought on board, one assumes, as a face with international appeal.

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