×

Already Pulled From Shanghai Festival, ‘The Eight Hundred’ Cancels Its China Release

Already pulled from its prestigious spot as the opener of the Shanghai International Film Festival, war epic “The Eight Hundred” has been dealt a further below with the cancellation of its scheduled release in China next week.

In a terse announcement on its official Weibo account, the film said late Tuesday that, “after consultation between the production team and other entities, ‘The Eight Hundred’ will cancel its original July 5 premiere and temporarily vacate the summer release date window. The new release date will be announced at a later time.”

The statement gave no indication as to what occasioned the cancellation. But China is undergoing a period of strong social and cultural tightening, and Chinese film censors have been especially active lately in ordering changes to films or yanking them from festivals and the domestic release schedule.

Besides “The Eight Hundred’s” announcement, an upcoming film whose original Chinese title translates to “Mighty Wishes” announced Tuesday that it would change its title “due to market demands” to “Tiny Little Wishes.” The slogan on the film’s poster was adjusted from “Having your wishes fulfilled” to “Tiny wishes can also be mighty.” And a TV adaptation of a work by Guo Jingming said it was being renamed “The Flow of Beautiful Times” instead of “A Flowing River of Sadness.”

And on Monday, the Chinese youth drama “Better Days” said it would no longer hit Chinese theaters on Thursday as planned. “Better Days” had already been withdrawn at the last minute from the Berlin Film Festival in February, a fate that also befell Zhang Yimou’s “One Second.”

“The whole world is moving forward, while Chinese cinema is heading backward,” lamented one of the top comments on “The Eight Hundred’s” Weibo site, on the announcement of the canceled release.

Directed by Guan Hu and produced by Huayi Bros., “The Eight Hundred” tells the true story of a ragtag band of soldiers who attempted heroically to hold off imperial Japanese troops in 1937. Made on a budget of $80 million, the action film has been touted as a symbol of China’s growing filmmaking powers, and boasts a storyline that would seem in sync with the Chinese government’s emphasis on patriotism ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic in October.

But days before the movie was to screen in Shanghai, a cultural research group criticized it as being too charitable in its depiction of China’s Nationalists, who fought side by side with the Communists against the Japanese but then were driven out of China by the Communists in an ensuing civil war.

“We have to make some changes,” a Huayi Bros. spokesman told Variety. “We are still working on getting it out this year.”

Patrick Frater contributed to this report.

More Film

  • The Great Hack (2019) - pictured:

    Film Review: 'The Great Hack'

    When I was growing up, we learned that the moral cornerstone of the First Amendment — the very essence of it — is that it’s about protecting the speech you don’t like. If the Nazis aren’t allowed to march in Skokie (a major test case in the 1970s), then a treacherous principle gets laid down: that [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Columbia Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Ads placed for the drama had an estimated media value of $5.71 million through Sunday for 997 national ad [...]

  • Circus of Books

    Outfest Film Review: 'Circus of Books'

    Rachel Mason grew up believing that her parents ran a small bookstore in Los Angeles. She wasn’t entirely mistaken, although the naive young woman — then an artsy teen, now a documentary filmmaker — never imagined that, as her mother Karen bluntly tells her on camera, “at one point, we were probably the biggest distributor [...]

  • Themba Ntuli and Ashley Lazarus

    Ashley Lazarus, Director of Apartheid-Era Cult Classic, Returns to Screen

    DURBAN–Director Ashley Lazarus, whose film about the interracial friendship between two young boys during the apartheid era became a South African cult classic in the 1970s, is set to return to the big screen with a film that builds on his life-long passion for early-childhood education. “Teacher Wanted” is the inspirational story of a teacher [...]

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum's Free Association Partners With Atwater Capital for Film Development Fund

    Free Association, a production company led by Channing Tatum, Peter Kiernan and Reid Carolin, has entered into a film development fund with Atwater Capital. The four-year $2 million revolving fund stipulates that Atwater will finance a minimum of five films with Free Association. Michael Parets, VP of production, will oversee the deal. Free Association will [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Box Office: Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Takes on 'Lion King'

    Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” will have to take on much more than a changing showbiz landscape. This weekend, the washed-up actor and his majordomo are battling Disney’s juggernaut “The Lion King” at the domestic box office. Tarantino’s R-rated auteur [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content