No gays, ghosts or nudity: selling a film to Chinese markets
Since the beginning of the Chinese film industry there has been a regime of censorship within the People’s Republic and todays mega blockbusters which can gross billions of dollars are no exception. The Chinese movie industry is no stranger to importing massive blockbusters and tweaking those movies for distribution in China in accordance with their strict rules regarding politically or socially sensitive topics. This is perhaps most relevant recently when the movie’s release in China had all references to Freddie Mercury’s relationship with men or AIDS removed from the movie all-together.
China is currently the largest market for movies, In February 2016 Stephen Chow’s film the Mermaid broke box office records grossing an incredible $1.05bn in one single month. The box office numbers of these Chinese and western releases in China cannot be ignored by movie studios who will make all kinds of artistic compromises in order to get past Chinese censors. This is perhaps best illustrated when the movie World War Z was re-edited for the Chinese market removing China as the source of the fictional undead attack. Rather than have the zombie epidemic start in a Chinese organ farm like originally in the book the epidemic began in North Korea and had any mention of China promptly removed.