China's censors change ending of latest Minions movie

"Rise of Gru" made efforts to cater to a Chinese audience. PHOTO: UIP

SHANGHAI (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Censors have altered the ending of the recent animated film, "Minions: The Rise of Gru", for its domestic release in China, social media users across the country noticed over the weekend.

The editing is yet another example of Chinese authorities editing a popular Hollywood film to make it more politically correct, leading some viewers to lament the changes.

According to posts and screenshots from the movie shared on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, censors tacked on an addendum in which Wild Knuckles, a main character in the heist film, was caught by police and served 20 years in jail.

Gru, a co-conspirator of Wild Knuckles "returned to his family" and "his biggest accomplishment is being the father to his three girls", screenshots of the film showed.

In the international version, the film ends with Gru and Wild Knuckles, the story's two thief anti-heroes, riding off together after Wild Knuckles faked his own death to evade capture from authorities.

Numerous online commentators mocked the addendum, saying it resembled a power-point presentation.

DuSir, an online movie review publisher with 14.4 million followers on Weibo, noted that the Chinese version of the film runs one minute longer than the international version and questioned why the extra minute was needed.

"It's only us who need special guidance and care, for fear that a cartoon will 'corrupt' us," DuSir wrote in a piece published last Saturday (Aug 20).

Universal Pictures, the film's US distributor, did not respond to a request for comment outside of normal business hours.

Huaxia Film Distribution and China Film, the film's distributors in China, did not respond to a request for comment.

China places a quota on the number of overseas movies that can be shown in domestic movie theatres. Many Hollywood films that screen in the country have certain scenes omitted or altered.

At times, some viewers note, alternative endings to films diverge far from the original.

Last year, Chinese viewers of the classic 1999 film "Fight Club" noticed that the original ending, in which the protagonist and his alter ego detonate a set of skyscrapers, was not on the version shown on domestic streaming site Tencent Video.

Instead, an on-screen script said police "rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding".

The changes were widely mocked among Chinese fans of the original film, and even elicited responses from the film's director and the author of the novel it was based on. Tencent later restored the original ending.

"Rise of Gru" made efforts to cater to a Chinese audience, with its plot centering around a fight over an ancient Chinese talisman that can summon the superpowers of the Chinese zodiac. Other Chinese elements such as jade pendants, kungfu, and dragon dances also run through the movie.

Last week, China said it wants US filmmakers to show more cultural respect, a rare comment from the Communist Party's publicity department after the country brushed off a series of American films.

Only 28 American movies were released in China last year, accounting for just 12 per cent of total market share, down from more than 50 titles in 2019 that added up to about 32 per cent of box office revenues, according to ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment.

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