HONG KONG — The American film “Django Unchained” was abruptly pulled from theaters in China on Thursday, its opening day, a surprising move that came after some scenes were reported to have been edited to conform to the wishes of Chinese censors.
No reason was given for the decision to suspend the film’s opening. Workers at Beijing theaters said the film had been pulled because of unspecified technical problems with the movie.
The film was to have made its debut Thursday after weeks of heavy promotion in China. News reports have said that some of the film’s graphic violence was edited to make it acceptable to state censors, including altering the color of fake blood in violent scenes and limiting how far the blood splattered.
Such revisions are becoming increasingly common before American films are shown in China, with American filmmakers adhering to the demands of Chinese censors as they seek to tap into the country’s lucrative market of filmgoers. China is the second-largest movie market in the world, behind the United States.
“Django Unchained” won two Oscars in February, including one for best original screenplay, which went to the film’s director, Quentin Tarantino. The movie focuses on a slave named Django and a bounty hunter who pursue a particularly brutal slave owner.
Before the film’s planned opening, the Chinese media quoted a Sony Pictures official who described the changes made to appease censors and suggested that Tarantino had played a role in the changes.
“What we call bloodshed and violence is just a means of serving the purpose of the film, and these slight adjustments will not affect the basic quality of the film — such as tuning the blood to a darker color, or lowering the height of the splatter of blood,” Zhang Miao, director of Sony Pictures’ Chinese branch, told Southern Metropolis Daily. “Quentin knew how to adjust that, and it’s necessary that he is the one to do it. You can give him suggestions, but it must be him.”
Tarantino, whose films are known for their no-holds-barred depictions of gory violence, has not commented on reports that he toned the film down for Chinese censors.
Read more: NY Times