Paul Feig’s new version of Ghostbusters has been getting critical praise from U.S. critics, but will it be given the chance to find an audience in China?
Variety reports that the new sci-fi comedy may be unable to secure distribution in the key Chinese market due to the conservative nation’s sanctions against pop culture that promotes “cults or superstitious beliefs.” Though the film has not yet been screened for government censors, Variety states that the mere presence of ghosts in the film will qualify as undesirable material, irrespective of whether said spooks are harmlessly scarfing hot dogs.
Sony, aware of these cultural differences, attempted to get in front of the problem by retitling the film Super Power Dare-to-Die Team for Chinese territories. (And in doing so, posed the question of why they didn’t go with that phenomenal title in the first place.) But even that may be to no avail; the censors can be strict in what can and cannot be screened for the public. Last year, the Gothic horror-romance Crimson Peak went without a Chinese release due to the appearance of creepy, drippy specters throughout the film.
In the bigger picture, this possible ban could be seriously harmful to Feig, Sony and Ghostbusters’ bottom line. Securing Chinese capital on a new studio tentpole release has become crucial in recent years, as overseas revenue elevated The Avengers and Furious 7 from garden-variety blockbusters to globe-dominating uberhits. The jury’s still out on whether Chinese federal officials are or ain’t afraid of no ghosts, but the days to come will assuredly be decisive ones for the fate of this film.