Turns out it’s not the things we own that end up owning us — it’s geography.
In an ironic turn of events, David Fincher’s anarchist 1999 film “Fight Club” was edited to please “the man,” a.k.a. Chinese president Xi Jinping. Almost 23 years after the film’s initial release, “Fight Club” gets an entirely different ending that proves law enforcement thwarted any grand finale, thanks to a new online release in China via streaming site Tencent Video, per The Guardian.
The iconic original ending features the Narrator (Edward Norton) killing his split personality Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and blowing up a city skyline with love interest Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) by his side. Now, the explosion sequence has been removed. It is unclear whether the new ending was changed due to self-censorship or by government order.
Vice reported that a source close to the material explained “the film was edited by the copyright owner and then approved by the government before it was sold to streaming sites for distribution. The Chinese publisher of the film, Pacific Audio & Video Co., is an affiliate of the state-owned Guangdong TV.”
In lieu of the finale that could spark discord, “Fight Club” added a caption to explain what happened to the Narrator. “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” the title card reads. “After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
“Fight Club” was shown in Chinese theaters during the Shanghai International Film Festival, although it is reportedly unclear if the theatrical version was similarly altered.
Moviegoers have since voiced their dissatisfaction over the swapped ending.
“This is too outrageous,” a viewer commented on Tencent Video (via The Guardian). Another added on Chinese social media site Weibo, ” ‘Fight Club’ on Tencent Video tells us that they don’t just delete scenes, but add to the plot too.”
“There is no point watching this film without that scene,” a Weibo user captioned (via VICE).
One fan compared the “Fight Club” censorship to other classic films: “Probably ‘Ocean’s 11’ would have all been arrested. ‘The Godfather’ ‘s entire family would end up in jail.”
Imported films in China are frequently altered to portray law enforcement defeating the villain, as well adhere to Communist Party morals.
Multiple scenes from 2019’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” were cut featuring Freddie Mercury’s sexuality, and Nicolas Cage crime film “Lord of War” dropped 30 minutes of running time after the ending was replaced with a simple caption saying arms dealers confessed to all crimes and were sentenced to life in prison.
The Cyberspace Administration of China announced on January 25 that the government sect was launching a month-long “clean” web campaign to create a “civilized and healthy” Internet over the Lunar New Year holiday.
FIGHT CLUB’s ending for the Chinese release (on Tencent Video) was changed to this and now I’m waiting for someone to fanfic a sequel based on this censored ending. pic.twitter.com/zYB0bY3Dlp
— Courtney Howard @ #Sundance (@Lulamaybelle) January 24, 2022