Hong Kong denizens and netizens have taken to Facebook to voice dismay over a new poster for Paramount’s upcoming sic-fi drama, Arrival. One of the 12 posters released for the film this week shows an ominous pod hovering over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. That’s pretty much in keeping with the other 11 one-sheets and their cityscapes. But, in what could be a question of artistic license, an Easter egg, or just an error in geography, this one also features Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower perched in the foreground. Watchers from Hong Kong have turned to the hashtag #HongKongIsNotChina in response, with over 2,400 comments now logged in one section of the film’s Facebook page.
The film from director Denis Villeneuve has been highly anticipated since Paramount plunked down $20M in a then-record Cannes deal for U.S., Canada and Chinese rights in 2014. The official trailer that was released this week, and the earlier teaser, have been met with much praise and increased curiosity.
Based on the 1998 Ted Chiang short story, Arrival Centers on expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military after a dozen mysterious spacecraft begin to hover over Earth. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks must communicate with the aliens to ascertain what they want and where they are from — but mostly if they are friend or foe. The film world premieres in Venice on September 2.
One reason the poster is eliciting such a reaction, suggests Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, is that the inclusion of the mainland landmark in the photo can be seen as “an inadvertent metaphor for the perceived encroaching influence” that China has had on Hong Kong recently.
We’ve reached out to Paramount for comment. In the meantime, Hong Kong Magazine points out that while it’s not known if the moving of the Oriental Pearl Tower from Shanghai to Hong Kong is the work of the aliens, so far none of the other cities on the various posters appear to have foreign monuments planted in their skylines.
And, the eagle-eyed folks at the Hong Kong Free Press note that the coordinates at the bottom right of the poster seem to correspond more with Shanghai than Hong Kong.