David Fincher has finally weighed in on China’s “Fight Club” censorship. As reported by Variety last month, Fincher’s “Fight Club” was uploaded to Tencent Video, China’s largest video streamer, with an entirely new ending that was the exact opposite of the director’s finale. Tencent Video then restored Fincher’s original ending earlier this month after significant backlash.
In Fincher’s 1999 “Fight Club” ending, Edward Norton’s narrator character kills off his alter ego Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) before watching the city burst into flames in apparent confirmation that his plan to destroy civilization has worked. The new ending in China cut the film to black before the citywide destruction. A title card then appeared saying authorities stopped the anarchic plan.
Fincher reacted to the censored ending in an interview with Empire magazine, saying, “It’s funny to me that the people who wrote the Band-Aid [ending] in China must have read the book, because it adheres pretty closely [to the final pages of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel.”
“Here’s what we know,” Fincher continued. “A company licensed the film from New Regency to show it in China, with a boilerplate [contract]: ‘You have to understand cuts may be made for censhorship purposes.’ No-one said, ‘If we don’t like the ending, can we change it?’ So there’s now a discussion being had as to what ‘trims’ means.”
Fincher expressed confusion and amusement at why any streaming platform would be interested in showing in his “Fight Club” but with a changed ending.
“If you don’t like this story, why would you license this movie?” Fincher asked. “It makes no sense to me when people go, ‘I think it would be good for our service if we had your title on it… we just want it to be a different movie.’ The fucking movie is 20 years old. It’s not like it had a reputation for being super cuddly.”
“Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk would agree with Fincher when it comes to China’s censored ending more closely mirroring the ending of the 1996 book. As Palahniuk told TMZ, “The irony is that the way the Chinese have changed it is they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending. So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit.”
The character’s plan to destroy civilization is also foiled in Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” novel, but not because of the police. Instead, the bombs used to destroy the city malfunction. The narrator, played by Norton in the film, then shoots himself and wakes up in a mental hospital.
Click here to read more about China’s “Fight Club” censorship and its restoration.