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‘Alien: Covenant’ Sets June Release Date in China

The Ridley Scott-directed “Alien: Covenant” has secured a theatrical release in China.

The space horror picture will hit mainland Chinese theaters on June 16. That is a full month after its international rollout  begins this week and nearly a month after its May 19 outing in North America.

A video message from Scott was posted on Chinese social media networks today. And a spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox in Beijing gave Variety emailed confirmation of the film’s release date. But the spokesman would not give any detail as to how the film’s high level of graphic horror content would be treated.

It is not clear whether the film will suffer as a result of cuts demanded by censors, or whether a release was made more possible by the introduction of a new law.

China has no ratings or classification system and all films released in China are in theory cleared for screening to audiences of all ages – or rejected outright. (Fox’s “Deadpool” last year failed to secure a China release.)

However, the newly introduced Film Promotion Law introduces warnings that need to be used on marketing materials, when the censors deem it necessary. Another Fox film, “Logan” was the first movie to be directly affected by the new law, and was released with the warning notices. Censors also ordered some 14 minutes of cuts to “Logan.”

Chinese regulators have long found graphic sex, extreme violence, politics, religion, superstition and horror to be taboo subjects. Chinese film makers are slowly grappling with the horror genre and trying to push the boundaries, but the results are mostly mild compared with some western movies.

Indeed the boundaries of Chinese censorship are always blurred and often moving. While homosexuality is often a no-go area as far as China’s censors are concerned, gay-themed “Moonlight” was allowed to play at the recent Beijing film festival and has been acquired for online distribution by iQIYI.  Similarly, Chinese regulators also openly boasted that they had no problem with the same sex insinuations of “Beauty and The Beast,” while regulators in other conservative jurisdictions found it problematic.

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