- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
David Fincher’s 1999 cult classic Fight Club has been restored to its original state in China — almost.
After widespread online backlash to clumsy censorship of the film’s ending, Chinese streaming service Tencent Video backtracked in recent days and restored most of the cuts it had made. Crucially, Fight Club’s complete ending is now viewable in full in China.
Fincher’s original film, which stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter, ends with the narrator (Norton) killing off his imaginary alter ego, Tyler Durden (Pitt), and then watching as buildings explode across a city skyline, suggesting that his anarchist crusade to take down consumerist society has begun.
A key tenet of China’s usual film censorship system is that criminals must always be punished for their crimes onscreen and societal harmony restored — especially in local Chinese movies. So, before the 20th Century Fox film began airing in the country, Tencent dramatically altered Fight Club’s ending. The climactic scene was excised and replaced with a blank screen showing the message: “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to a lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment.”
News of the cuts went viral around the world and sparked much debate and embarrassment on Chinese social media about local censorship practices. Some commentators pointed out that the new ending rendered the film nonsensical, given that Pitt’s character was actually just a delusion of the movie’s narrator. Chuck Palahniuk, author of the original novel on which Fincher’s film was based, joined the fray with the surprising observation that China’s ending was actually truer to the original vision of his book.
But it would appear that the backlash has been deemed more troublesome than the fictional film’s ending, as Tencent has now restored 11 of the 12 minutes it originally cut from the 137-minute movie. The minute still missing is mostly comprised of brief nude sex scenes between Pitt’s and Bonham Carter’s characters.
A spokesperson at Tencent didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Reversals of censorship actions are extremely rare within China’s entertainment industry — but cuts to Hollywood movies are not.
After 20th Century Fox’s Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody won multiple Oscars in 2018, it was granted a theatrical release in China — but only after all mentions of Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality were cut from the film. The movie earned $14 million in China, but human rights groups were vocally critical of Fox for letting Beijing screen the straight-washed version.
Last year, WarnerMedia’s much-anticipated Friends reunion had several scenes cut from its Chinese online release, including a cameo featuring Lady Gaga. The pop star is persona non grata in China due to a brief meeting she had with the Dalai Lama in 2016.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
‘He Went That Way’ Review: Jacob Elordi and Zachary Quinto in True Crime Misfire Awkwardly Stuck Between Genre Cracks
‘The Fabelmans’ Breakout Chloe East in Talks for A24 Thriller from Scott Beck, Bryan Woods (Exclusive)
Owen Teague Talks ‘You Hurt My Feelings’ and Meeting with Andy Serkis for the New ‘Apes’ Movie