There will be no ghost infestation in China. The world’s second largest film market has a well-known ban against the supernatural portrayed in semi-realistic ways, perhaps thanks to the secular ideology of the ruling Communist Party, and as expected, the country will not release Ghostbusters.
Whether it’s due to the secular ideology or an apathy amongst Chinese moviegoers depends on who you ask.
“It’s been confirmed that Ghostbusters won’t be coming to China, because they think it’s not really that attractive to Chinese audiences,” said one anonymous Chinese executive to The Hollywood Reporter. “Most of the Chinese audience didn’t see the first and second movies, so they don’t think there’s much market for it here.”
THR went on to add that Ghostbusters wasn’t formally submitted for approval by Chinese regulators.
It’s an odd reason, if THR’s sources are to be believed. Last winter’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in China despite the the country’s audiences being largely unfamiliar with the Star Wars brand. That director Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is a reboot, not beholden to any previous movie, makes the decision all the more curious. Other films from last year, like Guillermo del Toro’s gothic drama Crimson Peak were denied release due to its inclusion of ghosts and spirits.
China’s ban on the supernatural includes its homegrown films as well. Until Hong Kong’s hand-over from Britain, filmmakers like Sammo Hung (with his cult classic Encounters of the Spooky Kind) and franchises like A Chinese Ghost Story had ghosts and other supernatural themes. But since then, Chinese horror movies regularly feature plot twists like mental illness that explain why there’s a spooky ghost right there behind you. The House That Never Dies from 2014 was a legit horror hit in China, but — spoilers! — all the ghosts were hallucinations. And make no mistake: Ghostbusters is real, no matter how much some of its fans wish it were.
Ghostbusters arrives in theaters from Sony on July 15.