Quentin Tarantino’s theatrical cut of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is the only cut he wants in theaters around the world. Variety has confirmed the director will not be recutting his ninth feature film in order to allow it to have a release in Chinese theaters. News broke earlier today China was blocking the October 25 theatrical release of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” for unspecified reasons. China was set to be the last international market in which “Hollywood” would debut, and it could have pushed the movie’s worldwide box office haul close to or above the $400 million mark.
While China has not given a specific reason for pulling the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” release, it has been widely speculated the movie was pulled either because of its graphic violence or because of a reported complaint filed by Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon to China’s National Film Administration. Shannon has taken issue with Tarantino’s deception of her father, a national hero in China, and is said to have convinced China to halt the release of “Hollywood” until Tarantino could make the appropriate edits.
An exhibitor source previously told Variety that “as long as Quentin can make some cuts, it will be released as planned.” Now it has been confirmed that Tarantino will not be making those cuts. Shannon Lee has publicly denounced “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” for its depiction of Bruce Lee, played in the film by Mike Moh. The character is heard insulting Muhammad Ali in a scene in which he fights Brad Pitt’s character and gets thrown into the side of a car.
“He comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air,” Shannon told The Wrap after the movie’s U.S. theatrical release. “And not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others… Here, he’s the one with all the puffery and he’s the one challenging Brad Pitt. Which is not how he was.”
Tarantino has defiantly stood by his depiction of Bruce Lee. “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” Tarantino told press in August during the film’s Moscow press conference. “The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that to that effect.”
“Django Unchained” received similar pushback in China during its release in 2012. The movie was pushed from opening because of its graphic content, which led Tarantino to make some minor corrections to eliminate the movie’s violence and nudity. As Variety reports, Tarantino’s recut did not do much as “Django” flopped in China with $2.7 million. Pirated versions of “Django” widely circulated online by the time Tarantino’s edited version was ready to open. The same could happen with “Hollywood” now that the film will not open.
IndieWire has reached out to Sony and Tarantino’s representatives for further comment.