BEIJING — China’s censors have banned “Rush Hour 3” from theatrical release in China.
Given the popularity of pic’s star, Jackie Chan, on the mainland, decision comes as a shock but follows weeks of speculation that the pic was proving politically contentious.
The powerful state-run Film Bureau told Daily Variety that it had withheld permission for commercial reasons — a surprising justification given that the first two installments of the franchise did boffo B.O. in China.
“We think it will not be popular in China,” Xiao Ping, a VP at China Film Group’s import and export arm, said Thursday.
However, some believe that censors object to a scene featuring a Chinese organized crime family that Chan and Chris Tucker’s characters take on during a visit to Paris.
The issue of organized crime is politically sensitive in China as greater economic openness has been accompanied by the emergence of triad-style gangs in big cities.
“Rush Hour 3” also faced tough competition for an import slot. China allows only 20 foreign films to be imported per year and given a full “revenue-sharing” release.
The pic’s Chinese rights holder, Edko Films, was not available for comment on Thursday. New Line had no immediate comment on the decision.
Edko topper Bill Kong previously told Daily Variety: “The problem is not the Film Bureau, it is (state-run distributor) China Film. The schedule is very congested, and American films are doing very well around the world this year.”
“Rush Hour 3” preemed in Los Angeles on Monday at Grauman’s Chinese Theater and goes into release in North America on Aug 10. Film will be distributed in Hong Kong on Aug. 16 through Celestial Pictures.