As for foreign films that are imported to China, some disappear from local streaming platforms without explanation. In many other cases, Ma said, it is common for local distributors to tone down movies through relatively minor cuts. For example, the Chinese version of “Logan,” a 2017 blockbuster in the X-Men series starring Hugh Jackman, has less violence than the original.
Other cuts are more blatant. The Chinese version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the 2018 Queen biopic, cut references to the singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality — including a crucial scene in which he tells his fiancée that he is not straight, and another in which his male lover is introduced.
A new approach
The Chinese version of “Fight Club” is notable, Ma said, because it carries both strategic cuts and the same kind of pro-government written codas that are typically reserved only for Chinese-language films.
“Cutting is normal, but adding a new ending for foreign films? That’s new for me,” he said.
Ma said it would be interesting to know whether the film’s American production company discussed censorship in the contract when it sold the distribution rights in China. New Regency, the Los Angeles-based company that produced “Fight Club,” did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Tencent Video, the Chinese streaming platform that hosts the censored version of “Fight Club,” declined to comment when reached by telephone on Thursday. So did a spokeswoman for Pacific Audio and Video, the film’s Chinese distributor.
At least one other foreign movie was shown in China with both strategic cuts and a written coda.
In the original ending of “Lord of War,” a 2005 Hollywood blockbuster in which a Ukrainian arms dealer played by Nicolas Cage is chased by an Interpol agent, his character is released from prison and returns to selling arms.
But the Chinese version ends with Cage’s character, Yuri Orlov, still incarcerated.
“Yuri Orlov confessed all the crimes officially charged against him in court, and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the end,” a coda reads.
Austin Ramzy contributed reporting, and Li You contributed research.