Quentin Tarantino’s controversial western Django Unchained was pulled from theaters in China.
Sony Pictures was quite shocked to learn that the director’s acclaimed Civil War-era movie had been yanked from cinemas on Thursday. A studio spokesman said the decision to remove the film from theaters caught everyone completely by surprise.
“We regret that ‘Django Unchained’ has been removed from theaters and are working with the Chinese authorities to determine whether the film can be rescheduled,” Sony Pictures’ Steve Elzer explained to Deadline.
Although the film was approved by officials in China prior to its release in cinemas, insiders close to the situation said Django Unchained was yanked due to nudity. The official statement claims the screenings were canceled due to “technical reasons.”
Slight changes were made to the film in order to make it past Chinese censors. The color of blood in certain scenes was darkened while other sequences were altered to cut down on the amount of graphic violence. A Sony representative previously suggested Quentin Tarantino helped out with the changes.
“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,” Sony Pictures’ Zhang Miao stated.
Beichen Fortune Center movie theater general manager Tian Zaixing told The Associated Press that he couldn’t recall a time when a movie had been pulled from theaters after it began screening for audiences.
“We were excited about the film yesterday. We had had high expectations for this film’s box office. This means we might not be able to meet our box-office goal for the year,” he explained.
Tian added that he is currently looking for other films to fill the void left by the bloody western. He also explained that censors should have caught the problem prior to releasing the film into cinemas.
Many Hollywood studios have attempted to appease Chinese censors by altering movies before they are released in the country. Cloud Atlas and Skyfall were both edited prior to hitting theaters.
It’s currently unclear when Django Unchained will return to theaters in China. Both the State Administration of Radio Film and Television and Sony Pictures’ Chinese offices have yet to comment on the situation as of this writing.