Bohemian Rhapsody has been approved for theatrical release in China, a decision that reportedly surprised many considering the country’s track record of censoring homosexuality in films, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Despite the approval, certain sections of the movie will be cut, including scenes that feature drug use and Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury kissing other men. Bohemian Rhapsody is expected to hit theaters in China in March, and though it will only receive a limited release to start, it could reach more screens if it proves to be a hit.
Interestingly, Bohemian Rhapsody received its approval just days after the country’s streaming service, Mango TV, came under fire for censoring Malek after he won Best Actor at the Oscars. During his acceptance speech, Malek said, “Listen, we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life unapologetically himself.” In its translated subtitles, however, Mango TV replaced the words for “gay man” with “special group,” causing an uproar on Chinese social media.
Though notorious for its strict film censorship laws, China has been unpredictable when it comes to policing gay content over the years. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight was released on the Chinese streaming platform, iQiyi, and the state newspaper, The People’s Daily, even touted the inclusion of the “controversial gay moment” when Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast arrived in the country (“Requires no guidance for minor audience,” the paper claimed). However, the scene where Michael Fassbender kisses himself in Alien: Covenant was axed by censors.