The mainland opening will hit after the country’s National Day holiday in the first week of October, which this year marks a key and politically sensitive anniversary — the 70th year of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Censors have been on high alert ahead of the important date for the ruling Communist Party.
The weeklong holiday is typically a time when Chinese authorities impose an unofficial blackout on foreign titles in order to support the local industry. This year, it is also an occasion where the lineup will be dominated by animated titles and patriotic films that laud the ruling party.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” will hit Chinese theaters just after Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man,” which will debut in the Middle Kingdom on Oct. 18.
Set in the 1960s against the backdrop of the Manson murders, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a once-popular Western actor now struggling to maintain relevance and Brad Pitt as his trusty stunt double, alongside Margot Robbie as his neighbor, actress Sharon Tate.
China’s Bona Film Group, one of the country’s longest-running production companies, was a co-investor in the title. The film has received criticism in the West for its portrayal of its only Asian character, martial-arts legend Bruce Lee.
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DiCaprio posted the news of the China release, plus a trailer from the film, on his official Weibo account, which has 2 million followers. “Finally it’s our turn to see it in the mainland,” an enthusiastic fan commented.
Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” received a China release in 2013, but was pulled from theaters on the day of its premiere and heavily re-edited to remove violent sequences. It eventually did go on to screen, but was a flop, earning just $2.5 million (RMB17.8 million).
It’s unclear whether any cuts have been ordered by Chinese censors to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which also features some scenes of brutal violence.