The ending to David Fincher’s 1999 cult classic film Fight Club has been changed in China, sparking outrage among fans.
Film fans in China noticed over the weekend that a version of the Brad Pitt and Edward Norton film, newly available on streaming platform Tencent Video, was given a makeover that transforms the anarchist, anti-capitalist message which made the film a global hit.
In the closing scenes of the original, Norton’s character The Narrator kills off his imaginary alter ego Tyler Durden – played by Pitt – and then watches multiple buildings explode, suggesting his character’s plan to bring down modern civilisation is under way.
The new version in Cina has a very different take.
The Narrator still kills off Durden, but the exploding building scene is replaced with a black screen and a coda: “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding”.
It then adds that Tyler – a figment of The Narrator’s imagination – was sent to a “lunatic asylum” for psychological treatment and was later discharged.
The new ending in which the state triumphs sparked outrage among many Chinese viewers – many of whom would have seen pirated versions of the unadulterated version of the film.
“This is too outrageous,” one viewer commented on Tencent Video. “Fight Club on Tencent Video tells us that they don’t just delete scenes, but add to the plot too,” a user wrote on China’s social media platform Weibo.
It was not clear if government censors ordered the alternative ending or if the original movie’s producers made the changes. Tencent did not comment on the matter.
Hollywood studios often release alternative cuts in the hopes of clearing Beijing’s censorship hurdles and gaining access to millions of Chinese consumers.
Nel 2019, multiple scenes in the film Bohemian Rhapsody referencing iconic musician Freddie Mercury’s sexuality – a pivotal part of his biography – were dropped in its China release.
Under president Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have pushed to purge society of elements deemed unhealthy, including scenes within movies, television and video games.
They have also launched sweeping state crackdowns on tax evasion and perceived immoral behaviour in the entertainment industry, a tightening that has already targeted some of the country’s biggest celebrities.
Martedì, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced it was launching a month-long “clean” web campaign to create a “civilised and healthy” atmosphere online over the lunar new year holiday.