Django Unchained was pulled from Chinese movie theaters today, its opening day, a move that comes even after the film was reportedly edited to appease the country's censors, The New York Times reports.
No official reason was given for the delayed opening, but according to workers at theaters in Beijing, there were unspecified technical problems with the movie.
According to news reports, some of the movie's more violent scenes had been altered, an increasingly common practice for American films that want to screen in China's massive movie market. Zhang Miao, president of Sony Pictures' Chinese branch, said that director Quentin Tarantino was a part of that process.
"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," Miao told the 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."
Django was set to be the first Tarantino film to open in China, and its sudden, unexplained pulling after weeks of heavy promotion has caused some backlash, even from defenders of the Chinese government. "The harm that this action itself brings to politics far exceeds the harm that would have been caused by not censoring the 'offensive scene,'" Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, wrote on his blog.
Some rumors say that the censors missed a scene containing a brief bit of nudity, but film critic Wei Xidi suggested that the editing and vetting process to make the film viewable for Chinese audiences is too meticulous for that to be the reason.
It was recently announced that Iron Man 3 underwent several changes so that it could open in China, including the addition of exclusive footage shot in Beijing and an appearance from well-known Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.