BEIJING -- China's Film Bureau denies it banned Universal's Despicable Me 2 from theatrical release, insisting that the hit animated movie was not submitted for censorship approval, sources close to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) tell The Hollywood Reporter.
A source said the bureau was "furious" about the negative comments, particularly the "absurd" reasons given for the alleged ban, including reportedly maintaining that the Minions characters resemble former Chinese president Jiang Zemin. Another theory suggested the film was banned to make way for locally produced animated releases.
The previous installment to the franchise, released in 2010, also was not released in mainland China, but there had been hopes the sequel would be released -- and buzz had been building in the local media.
A source said that the local agent Edko (Beijing) Films had decided that the movie would not do well in China and decided against using one of the precious quota slots for the film. Universal had been led to believe the film had been banned, however, and officially confirmed last month the movie would not hit Chinese theaters.
In Los Angeles, Universal said it has received no indication that the movie will still be released in China.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached to Edko for comment.
In February 2012, the Chinese government expanded the quota of overseas movies from around 20 to 34 per year on a revenue-share basis, including enhanced format movies, but they remain a scarce commodity.
Other animated features are due to screen in Chinese theaters. Monsters University already has been confirmed to open in mainland China on Aug. 23.