China cancels release of Tarantino film over portrayal of Bruce Lee

Brenda Watkins
October 19, 2019

Quentin Tarantino's penchant for playing with history is going to cost him millions as China cancels the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Though the Chinese regulators have not given an official reason for the cancellation, THR is reporting that it may have to do with the film's depiction of Bruce Lee, which has been met with controversy. A source close to the development told Variety that the release was halted because action superstar Bruce Lee's daughter filed a complaint in the China's National Film Administration about the on-screen depiction of her late father. The film's release has reportedly been put on hold indefinitely despite the film's Chinese financier, Beijing-based Bona Film Group, frantically working with Tarantino to produce a cut of the film that would be approved ahead of the original release date of October 25, 2019.

The contentious flick includes a scene in which Brad Pitt's character challenges Lee to a fight and easily wins. Regardless of how you feel about the way Tarantino depicted the martial arts legend, demanding that the film be banned or altered to suit your preferences is a gross overeach, crossing over into the realm of censorship.

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China ranks as the world's second-largest movie market, and Hollywood studios clamor to get their biggest titles on Beijing's approval list. A re-edited version of Django Unchained was pulled from theaters on its opening day, though a subsequent version of the film was eventually released theatrically in China.

At stake is more than $30 million, as China was expected to put Hollywood-which has already earned $366 million-over the $400 million mark.

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