China has some of the most restrictive censorship rules in the world, with authorities only approving a handful of foreign films for release each year
BEIJING – The first rule of Fight Club in China? Do not mention the original ending. The second rule of Fight Club in China? Change it for the police to win.
China has some of the most restrictive censorship rules in the world, with authorities only approving a handful of foreign films for release each year – sometimes with significant cuts.
Among the latest films to receive such treatment is David Fincher’s 1999 cult classic “Fight Club” starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
Moviegoers in China noticed over the weekend that a version of the film newly available on streaming platform Tencent Video has had a makeover that transforms the anarchist and anti-capitalist message that made the film a global hit.
In the original’s final scenes, Norton’s character The Narrator kills his imaginary alter ego Tyler Durden – played by Pitt – then watches as several buildings explode, suggesting his character’s plan to bring down modern civilization is in full swing. Classes.
But the new version in China has a very different take.
The narrator continues to kill Durden, but the scene of the building exploding is replaced by a black screen and a coda: “The police quickly figured out the whole plan and arrested all the criminals, successfully stopping the bomb from going off”.
He then adds that Tyler – a figment of the Narrator’s imagination – was sent to an “insane asylum” for psychological treatment and was later fired.
– ‘Too outrageous’ –
The new ending in which the state triumphs was met with head-scratching and outrage from many Chinese viewers – many of whom would have likely seen pirated versions of the film in pure form.
“It’s too outrageous,” commented a viewer on Tencent Video.
“‘Fight Club’ on Tencent Video tells us that they not only remove scenes, but also add intrigue,” wrote one user on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
It’s currently unclear if government censors ordered the alternate ending or if the producers of the original film made the changes.
Tencent did not comment on this.
Hollywood studios often release alternate cuts in hopes of removing Beijing’s censorship hurdles and gaining lucrative access to millions of Chinese consumers.
In 2019, several scenes from the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” referencing iconic musician Freddie Mercury’s sexuality – a core part of his biography – were dropped when it was released in China.
Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have pushed to purge society of elements deemed unhealthy, including in movies, television and computer games.
They have also launched sweeping state crackdowns on tax evasion and perceived unethical behavior in the entertainment industry, a crackdown that has already targeted some of the country’s biggest celebrities.
On Tuesday, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced that it was launching a month-long “clean” web campaign to create a “civilized and healthy” atmosphere online during the Lunar New Year holiday.