Quentin Tarantino will not recut “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to placate Chinese censors, Variety has confirmed. The decision likely means that the Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt buddy dramedy and ode to late sixties Tinseltown won’t be making an appearance in China — at least in non-pirated form.
Tarantino previously ran afoul of higher ups in the country with “Django Unchained” and ultimately agreed to make some excisions that eliminated scenes of graphic violence and nudity after the film was yanked from release. It didn’t matter much. When it was re-released in edited form, the film went on to flop in China, eking out $2.7 million, even as it grossed a mighty $425.4 million globally. “Once Upon a Time,” which boasts DiCaprio, a favorite with Chinese audiences, in a lead role along with another A-lister in Pitt, may have fared better.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is distributed by Sony Pictures, but Tarantino has final cut on the film, so any alterations have to meet with his approval. Chinese authorities didn’t tell Sony what scenes were objectionable, but an exhibitor source said the movie’s Oct. 25 release was “put on hold” after Shannon Lee, the daughter of Bruce Lee, filed a complaint to China’s National Film Administration. She objected to the onscreen depiction of her late father as an arrogant and boastful man who struggles to defeat Pitt’s characters in a fight. Tarantino has defended his depiction of the “Enter the Dragon” actor, telling reporters at a Moscow press conference, “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy. The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up.”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is considered to be an Oscar front-runner and has grossed an impressive $366.8 million on a $90 million budget. Spokespeople for Sony and Tarantino declined to comment.