Over the past decade, China has emerged has emerged as one of the most important markets in the world for film distribution. Even big-budget movies that bomb in the US sometimes become profitable in China, like Warcraft did earlier this year. Still, China’s government isn’t completely open to Hollywood films crowding their movie screens. Sometimes, movies get banned for reasons you wouldn’t even think of. Here is Screen Rant’s list of 10 Famous Movies That Were Banned In China.
Star Wars: A New Hope
Last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a huge hit in China last year, but ironically, the first Star Wars was never released in the country. Back in 1977, the only movies that got to play in the communist nation were produced by the government. Mao Zedong, the long time dictator of China, only died one year before George Lucas made Star Wars, and he didn’t want the people of China to be “corrupted” by western influences. It wasn’t until 1994 that the government opened up the market to only 10 foreign films a year. Recently, that quota has been increased to 34 foreign films per year, but it’s still far more restrictive than most countries.
Paul Feig’s recent reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise was controversial in the United States because the original film’s busters were exchanged for an all-female cast. But in China, it got rejected by the censors for a completely different reason: It was because the country is still suspicious of movies that “promote superstition.” Though this rule may seem silly in relation to Ghostbusters, it often applies to films that depict ghosts and other supernatural beings. Sony reportedly tried to appease censors by removing the character for “Ghost” from the Chinese title, but the film still wasn’t approved for release. Considering the film’s disappointing box office in the US, is was probably a blow to the studio that they’re missing out on the Chinese audience.
Deadpool was another film that was rejected by Chinese censors for its adult material. Comic book fans flocked to the movie on account of its irreverent, potty-mouthed sense of humor, but that’s the exact same reason it never made it to theatres in China. Without the equivalent of an “R” rating to keep out kids, censors had no choice but to ban the movie entirely. Movies are sometimes edited to appease censors in China, but that hardly would have been possible for a movie like Deadpool. The Ryan Reynolds-starring superhero movie is so full of dirty jokes and gruesome violence that studios would probably have to cut most of the movie to make it suitable for all ages.
The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is another comic book film that was rejected by Chinese censors. It’s been speculated that the film was rejected because of a scene where Batman captures a fugitive from an office tower in Hong Kong and extradites him to the US to face prosecution. The Chinese government probably didn’t like the way Batman flouted international law or Chinese sovereignty. They also may have objected to a brief cameo from singer Edison Chen. Sexually explicit photographs of the Hong Kong celebrity leaked online earlier that year, and he had become quite controversial by that point in time. Regardless, The Dark Knight is widely available on pirated DVDs for Chinese comic book fans.
Suicide Squad was a major hit when it was released in the US, but it never even got a chance in China. Even though it was retitled to the less suggestive “Task Force X” for a potential release, the government hasn’t included it in their quota of Hollywood films for 2016. This could be because of the violence, or because of the supernatural themes, or maybe they just didn’t like the idea of a movie about supervillains who become heroes. Perhaps Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker was just a tad bit too twisted for Chinese authorities. Whatever the case, it’s a big blow to Warner Bros., whose Batman v Superman earned a big chunk of its box office in China earlier this year.