The China Film Bureau has permitted Fox’s upcoming Logan to premiere in Chinese movie theaters at a runtime of 123-minutes, which is a full 14 minutes shorter than the 137-minute runtime currently listed for the film in North America. That’s 14 minutes of headshots, and one quick shot of a woman flashing Logan that the Chinese government doesn’t want its constituents to see.
Chinese censors reportedly took issues with several scenes in Logan for being too bloody or violent, along with scenes with intense language, as well as some very brief nudity in the film. The removed Logan scenes ran counter to the Chinese government’s mandate that films screening in the country need to edit content for graphic violence, nudity or sexual situations, and “supernatural themes,” so as to meet a standardized, general audience release.
One reason for a single, general audience edit is because China does not currently have a rating board like the United States’ MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), which gives ratings to films ranging from G (General Audiences) to R (Restricted), so all films must be approved for everyone, which seems like an awfully complicated process.
Logan, for example, has an R-rating, a first for a solo Wolverine film and a rating that critics who have seen the film say the movie completely deserves due to the movie’s graphic violence and a single scene where boobs are flashed. At the same time, Chinese censors have a history of making — sometimes drastic — edits to films of all MPAA ratings screening in China, from family friendly films like Harry Potter, to films like Titanic.
It feels strange that films like Logan have to meet the same general requirements as a film like Harry Potter, although according to a Chinese government official in 2008, a rating system would be akin to “legalizing pornography,” so it seems as though the general audience edit will continue in China for the foreseeable future.
Films that refuse to implement the edits requested by the Chinese censors face stiff consequences, namely, being barred from releasing in China. At a time when Chinese moviegoers are making up a significant share of movie profits, not being allowed to screen in Chinese theaters is a risky proposition.
Logan opens in China on March 3, 2017, with a premiere in Beijing on March 1.