‘Django Unchained’s’ On-Again, Off-Again Chinese Release is Reportedly Back On

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

"Django Unchained" may reach Chinese audiences after all, though not in the form that was seen by the rest of the world.

The Chinese news site sina.com is reporting that Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning tale of a slave seeking payback has been cleared for release in China and will open on May 7, roughly three weeks after the film's initial Chinese release ended just hours after it began.

However, the report also states that some nudity has been trimmed from the movie to please Chinese censors (presumably a scene in which Jamie Foxx's title character is naked and about to be tortured). TNABO, a film-oriented Chinese microblog, also reports the movie will return to Chinese theaters in May.

Last April, "Django Unchained" had a much-publicized opening in China, and was the first Tarantino film to be approved by the nation's notoriously strict censorship board, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. The Chinese release of the film was reportedly altered to tone down the redness of the blood and the intensity of its spray in the picture's many scenes of graphic violence, but had no footage cut. However, on April 11, the morning of the film's release, it was pulled from theaters under orders from SARFT, with some theaters shutting down the movie in mid-screening.

The official reason cited for the cancelled release was "technology problems," but since a handful of Midnight screenings went off without a hitch, Chinese film bloggers widely speculated that SARFT somehow missed the nude scene, and it was responsible for the sudden ban. (A few writers have also suggested that Django's violent bid for freedom and justice may have displeased censors in a land where free speech and human rights are still hotly debated issues.)

So far, Sony Pictures has not confirmed a new Chinese release date for "Django Unchained" despite these reports, and the studio said very little about the controversy, perhaps hoping not to ruffle feathers in a very large and growing international market where American filmmakers are eager to do business. But Chinese fans are said to have already been enjoying the movie in its original form, thanks to bootlegged DVDs and unauthorized digital downloads.

Watch the trailer for 'Django Unchained':