The David Fincher directorial, which features actors Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, began streaming on the Chinese platform Tencent Video in January, almost two decades after its release. The ending, however, was altered to appeal to the country’s authoritarian ideology.
In the original ending, the narrator, played by Norton, kills Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, and watches a cluster of skyscrapers blow up as a symbol of destroying consumerism by erasing bank and debt records.
This explosion scene was removed in the edited version in China and replaced with a screen that read: “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Chinese fans of the film blasted the edit on social media. “This is too ridiculous,” wrote one person on Tencent Video’s page for the movie, while another called the change “a pillar of shame in cinematic history.”
“No one wants to pay money to watch a classic that has been so ruined to such an extent,” yet another person wrote on Douban, a movie review site.
Following this, the original ending has been restored on the streaming platform. However, the latest version still omits a scene featuring nudity that was removed in the previous edited copy.
Interestingly, while fans criticised the altered ending, Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the book that Fight Club is based on, earlier told TMZ that the edited version was closer to the original text than Fincher’s version. “The irony is that they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending. So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit,” he had said.
China is infamous for its strict regulation of the entertainment sector. This includes censoring content that does not align with the country’s ideology, preventing or delaying the release of Hollywood films, and imposing curbs on Chinese celebrities’ social media footprints in a bid to preserve mainstream values. Multiple recent Hollywood films such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, Black Widow, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are notably still awaiting a China release.