Warner Bros has censored dialogues referring to a same-sex relationship in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore to appease the Chinese government.
The studio has cut out references to the romantic past between Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen). The lines, “I was in love with you” and “the summer Gellert and I fell in love” suggested a same-sex relationship between the two characters. These lines, amounting to six seconds in the film, have been removed for China.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros confirmed the same, and wrote, “Our hope is to release our features worldwide as released by their creators but historically, we have faced small edits made in local markets. In the case of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros accepted those changes to comply with local requirements, but the spirit of the film remains intact.”
Warner Bros called the changes ‘minor edits’, and said, “As a studio, we’re committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release, and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors.”
The film is the third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which is a spin-off of the Harry Potter series. Directed by David Yates, who has also helmed four Harry Potter films, The Secrets of Dumbledore follows the titular character giving a task to Newt Scamander and his allies with a mission that takes them to the heart of dark wizard Grindelwald’s army.
The screenplay is by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books that the films are based on and drawn from.
The Secrets of Dumbledore features an ensemble cast that includes Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, and Katherine Waterston, alongside Law and Mikkelsen.
It has already premiered in several countries, including China and India, and is set to release in the US on Friday.
So far, the film has collected a little over $56 million from its release in countries like India, China, Australia, Portugal, Czech Republic, Sweden, Belgium, Poland, Denmark, and Germany, among others. It has seen especially good collections in China and Germany, amounting to around $10 million.
It is to be noted that this was the first time that a film in the series has explicitly portrayed Dumbledore’s sexuality, after Rowling first announced it in 2007.
However, this is not the first film with LGBTQIA+ references to face censorship in recent times. Both Eternals and West Side Story were banned in Middle-Eastern countries for showing scenes depicting same-sex relationships, after Disney refused to cut them. But, the multimedia company had removed a same-sex kiss scene in its upcoming Pixar feature Lightyear of its own accord, though this was later reinstated in the backdrop of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill row.