Quentin Tarantino’s summer hit Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – starring Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie – raked in millions during its domestic release. But, it’s international numbers are going to take a hit because China has canceled the film’s scheduled release in their country.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie had been approved for an October 25th release, but insiders say that Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, didn’t appreciate the way her father was portrayed in the film and appealed to the Chinese National Film Administration, asking them to demand changes be made to the movie before it’s released in China.
Chinese officials didn’t give a reason for canceling the film’s release, but Lee is the only character in the film of Chinese descent.
Earlier this year, Beijing-based Bona Film Group invested in Tarantino’s film by paying for the Chinese distribution rights, and in return they were set to receive a percentage of the movie’s worldwide box office revenue and the company’s CEO Yu Dong and COO Jeffrey Chan both received executive producer credits.
Actor Mike Moh portrayed Bruce Lee in the film, and the character comes across as extremely cocky by making claims that he could cripple Cassius Clay (AKA Muhammad Ali) in a fight. Pitt’s character is Cliff Booth – a Hollywood stuntman – laughs at Lee’s claim, and the two end up in a “friendly” contest over who can knock the other down three times while avoiding the face.
Bona and Tarantino are now working on re-cutting the film in order to gain Chinese approval so it can be released as scheduled.
Quentin Tarantino has never had one of his films properly released in China, which is a massive market. He did come close in 2012 with Django Unchained, but just minutes after its premiere, Chinese officials changed their mind and ordered the movie to be pulled from theaters without explanation.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has earned more than $350 million dollars since it’s July release in the United States. The expectation was that the Chinese release would push the film well over the $400 million mark.
The Chinese government’s influence over American entertainment has become a big issue recently. When the Houston Rockets general manager tweeted his support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, it nearly destroyed the NBA’s relationship with China. And, a recent episode of South Park made fun of Hollywood’s willingness to do anything the Chinese censors say in order to keep their movies and TV shows in the country.
China responded to the South Park episode by banning the long-running show in their country.