What’s old is new again, at least in China, where David Fincher’s 1999 film Fight Club by David Fincher has a new ending that has been edited into the Chinese release of the movie twenty years later. And in this one, the authorities win.
Variety says that when Fight Club was first released, Brad Pitt movies were banned in China. That was thanks to his role in the 1997’s Seven Years In Tibet–which saw his character befriend the Dalai Lama during China’s invasion of Tibet. So Brad’s movies weren’t allowed in the country until 2016 when he starred in Allied, which was partly Chinese-financed and allowed to be released.
Tencent Video is China’s largest video streamer (eat shit, Netflix!) and they have the biggest selection of imported films, and one of them is now Fight Club. In the original ending of the movie, Edward Norton’s narrator character kills off his alter ego Tyler Durden (played by Brad), and then he and Marla (played by Helena Bonham Carter) watch buildings collapse and explode in an apparent confirmation that his plan in the film to destroy modern civilization is happening. In China, the movie stops after Tyler is killed off, and instead, English-language title cards explain that the police caught everyone before bad things could happen, and the narrator, who they call Tyler, is institutionalized until the year 2012. It reads:
“The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum [sic] receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
As many have pointed out, that ending is similar to the ending in Chuck Palahniuk’s book. The book ends like this:
With Tyler gone, the narrator waits for the bomb to explode and kill him. The bomb malfunctions because Tyler mixed paraffin into the explosives. Still alive and holding Tyler’s gun, the narrator makes the first decision that is truly his own: he puts the gun in his mouth and shoots himself. Some time later, he awakens in a mental hospital, believing he is in Heaven, and imagines an argument with God over human nature. The book ends with the narrator being approached by hospital employees who reveal themselves to be Project members. They tell him their plans still continue, and that they are expecting Tyler to come back.
Here’s a comparison of the endings:
This is pretty standard for China, as their censors prevent a lot of movies from playing in the country–like no Marvel movies were able to be played last year, and Bohemian Rhapsody is three minutes shorter there because they cut all gay references from it. A source tells Variety that the copyright owner in the Chinese market probably sold this cut of Fight Club to Tencent:
“For anyone familiar with how business is done between copyright owner and companies who buy the distribution rights for a certain region, it’s clear that the company who brought the distribution rights for the China market sold this version to Tencent Video.”
Another executive who’s involved with importing foreign films into China, says this kind of re-cutting is a “win-win” since it gets the movie shown in China and censors are happy too:
“It is better to have 99.9% of the film shown legally to tens of millions of people than to not have it shown at all. I think it’s a win-win situation.”
They should do this with Cats but not in China, everywhere. At the end of the film add a title card that says: “Yes, we were high on acid when we made this movie. No, it doesn’t make sense, and we’re very sorry for the emotional damage.”