Story at a glance
- The 1999 film “Fight Club” has been given a new ending in China — one where authorities emerge as victors.
- In the newly released cut, a series of explosions at the end of the film are replaced with a black screen and text telling viewers that police “arrested all criminals.”
- Altering films in China to placate censors is not a new practice, and movies like “Logan” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” were heavily edited ahead of their release.
After two decades, David Fincher’s iconic 1999 film “Fight Club” has a new ending in China.
At the end of the original movie, Brad Pitt’s character Tyler Durden is killed by Edward Norton’s character the Narrator, who then watches the buildings around him crumble to the ground at the hands of several explosions.
However, in a newly released cut of the film available on the Chinese video streaming service Tencent Video, the Narrator is killed and the explosions are replaced with a black screen and English text reading: “Through the clue provided by Durden, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.”
It adds that Durden — a figment of the Narrator’s imagination — was sent to a “lunatic asylum” following a trial, where he received psychological treatment before being discharged in 2012.
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The change was immediately noticed after “Fight Club” was made available on Tencent over the weekend, confusing those who had seen the original version.
“I’d rather see Tencent pull this film. What you are propagating here is not ‘positive energy’. What are you trying to achieve by changing the ending?” one viewer wrote on the Chinese media review forum Douban.
It is currently unclear whether government censors ordered the alternative ending, The Guardian reported, and Tencent has not commented on the change.
Cutting scenes considered “violent” or “pornographic” is standard practice in China, one unnamed producer told the South China Morning Post, and video platforms regularly send movies and television shows to the National Radio and Television Administration, China’s top media watchdog, for viewing and feedback prior to their release.
Platforms are often pressured to make the suggested changes before the film or series is cleared for release, and when a foreign film is purchased, a type of censorship agreement is regularly made between involved parties.
Censors in China cut 14 minutes from the X-Men spinoff “Logan” in 2017 for its graphic depictions of violence, and references to Queen frontman Freddie Mercury’s sexuality in the 2018 film “Bohemian Rhapsody” were removed due to laws banning explicit references to same-sex relationships in media.
In 2019, “The Joker” was not cleared for release at all in China because of its depictions of violence and rebellion against an oppressive society. Also in 2019, the theatrical release of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was put on hold after a complaint reportedly made by actor Bruce Lee’s daughter about the way her late father was portrayed in the film.
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