Following numerous protests over Ben Affleck's Oscar-winning film Argo, Iran has now threatened to sue, arguing that the film presents it in an unrealistic light. It has dismissed representations of the 1979 revolution and hostage crisis as propaganda. Meanwhile, similar allegations surround the remake of cold war invasion drama Red Dawn.
Though it's unclear exactly what charges Iran could bring - a complaint of lack of realism might require making a case that most films do represent their settings realistically - talks are understood to have been taking place at a senior level, with French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre offering to represent the Iranian government. The involvement of US First lady Michelle Obama in presenting Affleck with his Oscar has led to accusations that the whole production was the product of a political conspiracy.
The timing of these accusations may relate to the release of another film that has sparked international upset, Red Dawn. A remake of the 1984 film in which a group of teenagers fight back against a Soviet invasion of the US, it was originally intended to feature an invasion by the Chinse, but the Beijing authorities protested. In the finished version, the invading forces come from North Korea. Quite how a country of 24 million people hopes to control a country of 314 million is unclear, but the choice probably relates to the fact the hermit kingdom is not seen as a real threat.
There is another factor at play here, which may prove more significant that military posturing or lawsuits - the marketplace. China is a massive consumer of Hollywood films and any restrictions it might choose to impose on their import could seriously hurt the US economy. Iran and North Korea, by contrast, screen very little Hollywood output, though Argo has proven popular in both countries on the DVD black market.