It all seemed a little too good to be true, and perhaps in the end it was: seconds into its first screenings in China, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained was abruptly pulled from cinemas on Thursday. It would have been the first time a Tarantino movie was given an officially sanctioned release in the country.
Movie theater operators in China are saying the film was pulled for "technical reasons."
"We got the notice from our headquarters around 10:00am this morning but it was too late to cancel two viewings," an official from a Shanghai theater told Reuters.
"We were only told that it was due to some technology problems and were told to cancel it. They didn't tell us when the film would be shown again."
Various cinemagoers who attended the abruptly suspended screenings wrote on Weibo that the film had just begun to roll when it was stopped and they were told to exit the theater. The Chinese press has quoted several unnamed industry insiders as saying the film was held up because of its brief nude scenes.
China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) pre-screens and censors all films that are show in the country's cinemas. Many China-watchers had hailed the approval of Django for Chinese exhibition as a sign of increased tolerance in the country.
Tarantino is said to have made limited changes to the film to get State approval for the Chinese release, including muting the color of blood in its many violent sequences.