Just a week before its scheduled to premiere on October 25, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was refused for release in China. It is unclear what the issue is, but Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, is said to have campaigned China’s National Film Administration over apparent issues with her father’s portrayal in the film.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tarantino is refusing to re-cut his movie to please the regulators in China, however. As such, it appears Once Upon a Time in Hollywood may not be released in China.
“The decision to halt the release is speculated to be over Tarantino’s portrayal of the late martial arts hero Bruce Lee, who was of Chinese descent,” THR said. “Friends and family of the Hollywood action star have criticized Tarantino for his depiction of Lee, saying it doesn’t resemble the real-life man and is instead a caricature.”
According to the report, the regulators in China did not provide any explanation for why it refused the release of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in China. A source told THR that one of the issues could be related to the level of violence in the film.
China is among the world’s largest movie markets, so Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is leaving a lot of money on the table, it seems.
Tarantino is known as a director who is known to have “final cut” privilege, meaning he gets decide on the content for a theatrical release, not necessarily the studio.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Tarantino’s ninth movie, and it would have been the first to be released in China, though it appears that is no longer happening.
A director refusing to edit their movie to please the Chinese regulators is not always the case. 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody was edited for China to remove all mention of Freddie Mercury’s sexual orientation.