FilmBiz Asia has just reported that screenings of Django Unchained were stopped today after just a minute or two, and the film has been pulled from release. Cinema chains have cited "technical reasons" for the halt to all screenings of the film. Previews had been held earlier this week, but today was the official release date. The Guardian, among others, is now suggesting that full frontal nudity from Jamie Foxx might be the reason for the halt. Surely, if Foxx was so "unchained", shouldn't the censors have noticed it ahead of Sony Pictures' lengthy advertising campaign?
Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning homage to spaghetti westerns, Django Unchained, is to open wide across mainland China, but will do so in a slightly different version to that which has already raked in over US$400 million at the global box office. However, rather than having any of its scenes trimmed or excised to appease SARFT, the China Censorship Board, the numerous blood splatter effects in the film are to be "slightly muted", in both colour and trajectory, according to Sony Pictures' Zhang Miao. And Tarantino himself will be overseeing the process.
"[Tarantino] agreed on making slight adjustments to the film for different markets - and this adjustment for him is progress rather than a compromise," Zhang is quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying, when speaking to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper. "These slight adjustments will not affect the basic quality of the film - such as tuning the blood to a darker colour, or lowering the height of the splatter of blood. Quentin knew how to adjust that, and it's necessary that he is the one to do it. You can give him suggestions, but it must be him who does it."
This is great news for mature mainland movie-goers, who will finally be able to experience a Tarantino movie on the big screen. Until now, none of the director's previous films have screened in China. However, as SARFT does not implement any form of certficiation or ratings system (films are either screened for all or not at all) it now means that parents will be permitted to bring their small children in to see the film. The blood splatter in the numerous shootout sequences may have been muted, but as any Tarantino aficianado knows, it is often the moments of violence that are suggested rather than shown explicitly that have the greatest impact. The thought of young children being confronted by Django's notorious mandingo fight, for example, is still some cause for concern.