Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore won the Chinese box office over the weekend, which is surprising given the film alludes to a past relationship between Jude Law‘s Dumbledore and Mad Mikkelesen‘s Grindelwald. Or at least it will when it arrives in U.S. theaters on April 15. Chinese audiences, on the other hand, saw a version of the film where all of the gay dialogue was edited out.
Warner Bros. has confirmed that it removed the dialogue at the request of China. However, the studio argues that the “spirit of the film” still remains despite removing exactly two lines where Dumbledore and Grindelwald say they were in love with each other. In a statement to Variety, Warner Bros. defended making the “nuanced cuts” so that the film can be seen by all audiences. The studio also said that “small edits in local markets” happen all the time, which is one way to describe erasing LGBTQ representation:
“In the case of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,’ a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. accepted those changes to comply with local requirements but the spirit of the film remains intact,” the statement added. “We want audiences everywhere in the world to see and enjoy this film, and it’s important to us that Chinese audiences have the opportunity to experience it as well, even with these minor edits.”
The revelation that The Secrets of Dumbledore only contains two lines referencing a relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald will only add to the criticism that the Fantastic Beasts films are severely lacking in LGBTQ representation (despite one of its main characters being canonically gay). It also doesn’t help that J.K. Rowling has been a consistent lightning rod for controversy in recent years due to her outspoken views on the trans community. In short, Warner Bros. has a messy path ahead as it attempts to maintain the vitality of the Harry Potter franchise.