China cuts 40 minutes of Cloud Atlas, directors promote it there anyway

Tom Tykwer and The Wachowski Starship‘s Cloud Atlas (my review) recently had 40 minutes shaved from it by mainland China’s strict censors. Amazingly, the cuts had nothing to do with the film’s horrendous Asian-face make up, they were more about sexiness and gay stuff.

Material deleted mainly comprised of love scenes, gory sequences and nudity. A number of same-sex love scenes between actors Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy were also cut from the film due to the Sarft’s strict ban on homosexual content. Mainland actress Zhou Xun has a small role in the film and appears in a sex scene which is expected to be cut.

“Although the mainland version is a bit constrained, [we] fully believe in the regulator’s editing standards,” said Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer, who was in Beijing on Tuesday to promote the movie ahead of its January 31 release. [Scmp]

Did you catch that? That’s the amazing part of this story to me, that Chinese censors cut 40 minutes – a full fourth of the movie – and the directors still showed up in Beijing to promote it. I know it’s basically a cottage industry here to bash China while simultaneously grubbing for their money (see: the presidential debates, both candidates), but that’s still stunning that they showed up to the premiere of a film they didn’t even get to cut themselves.

Though “Cloud Atlas” directors said they believed Chinese editors, they didn’t do the cut themselves. Qiu Huashun, boss of the Dreams of the Dragon Pictures, said the cut is due to Chinese censorship regulations and the interests of Chinese market.

“It sucks really,” director Lana Wachowski told, “But I believe you can watch the full version online.” []

It’s hard to tell if there’s even a way to do that legally in China. Of course, Tykwer and the Wachowskis’ showing up reflected some economic realities:

Cloud Atlas opened to mostly negative reviews and barely managed to put a dent in the US box office. According to the Dongfang Daily, the US$100 million production must earn at least 1 billion yuan (US$160 million) to recoup huge losses incurred globally. [Scmp]

So now they have to play nice at the premiere of a movie that’s been hacked to pieces. “Maybe you guys can watch it online? If that’s legal? Anyway, you make me very sad, but I guess that’s normal here. Enjoy!”

Saddest promotional tour ever.

[hat tip: RopeofSilicon, Thanks to reader Jared for the banner graphic]