China has killed the distribution of Quentin Tarantino's film "Once Upon a Time In Hollywood," one week before its major debut at box offices across the country, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The widespread release of the film was planned for Oct. 25th. Chinese regulators canceled those plans over a controversial fight scene featuring an actor inaccurately portraying legendary Chinese martial arts master, Bruce Lee, said a source familiar with the film.
Chinese film regulators didn't explain their cancellation decision. But another source familiar with the movie told The Hollywood Reporter that Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee's daughter, "filed a complaint to China's National Film Administration" due to the inaccurate portrayal of her late father. She said Tarantino's film made her late father look "arrogant" and "boastful."
The decision to prevent the movie from debuting is a massive blow to Sony and the Chinese distributor Bona Film Group, that is because China has the largest box office market in the world.
Shannon Lee, chief executive of Bruce Lee Family Co., said in July Tarantino's film was a "mockery" of her father.
"The script treatment of my father as this arrogant, egotistical punching bag was really disheartening — and, I feel, unnecessary," Lee told The Times.
Tarantino responded to Lee's comments in late summer by saying, "Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn't just make a lot of that up."
The controversial scene in question involves a fight between Mike Moh, the actor who portrays Bruce Lee, and Brad Pitt's character, stuntman Cliff Booth, where a fight eventually leads to Moh [Lee] getting bodyslammed into the side of a car.
In an interview with Birth.Movies.Death, Moh, revealed in Aug., that the original script had "major issues" when it came to an accurate portrayal of Bruce Lee." I'm not going to tell you what the original script had exactly, but when I read it, I was so conflicted because he's my hero - Bruce in my mind was literally a god. He wasn't a person to me, he was a superhero. And I think that's how most people view Bruce."
Tarantino has said he has no intention of recutting his Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to appease China's censors.
A source close to the situation tells The Hollywood Reporter that the auteur is taking a take-it-or-leave-it stance in the wake of Chinese regulators pulling the film.
Tarantino had another run-in with Chinese regulators back in 2012 when he released Django Unchained, which the movie was pulled from theaters after graphic scenes showed excessive nudity and violence.
Django Unchained was re-released after an edit, supervised by Chinese regulators, the movie then flopped, making only $2.7 million, opposed to hundreds of millions of dollars.
The latest distribution debacle comes at a time when tensions between the US and China are at high levels due to an ongoing trade war.
Earlier this month, we reported how China canceled all broadcasts of NBA games due to a now-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting protestors in Hong Kong.
China's censorship doesn't stop at the movies or the NBA. Apple, South Park, and Activision Blizzard, all have recently been targeted by the Chinese government to remove content or face penalties that could result in a denial of access to Chinese markets.