China’s censors have changed the ending of animated film “Minions: The Rise of Gru” so good triumphs over evil, in the latest example of a Hollywood movie being twisted to send a more palatable social message.
In the Chinese version, the “special edition” ending says supervillian Gru gave up his life of crime and returned to the straight-and-narrow, with his biggest accomplishment being “father to his three daughters.” That’s in stark contrast to the original, where Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, rides off with co-conspirator Wild Knuckles, who faked his death to avoid being captured.
The changes have been mocked on Chinese social media, with a hashtag referring to the changed ending on Twitter-like Weibo garnering around 1.7 million views. “The (changed) ending is very China,” one user commented.
Huaxia Film Distribution, the movie’s distributor in China, and the China Film Administration, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Co-distributor China Film Co. couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier this year, the ending of 1999’s “Fight Club” was replaced by a terse message saying all criminals were apprehended and the authorities triumphed. That also sparked furore on social media before the original climax -- in which the unnamed narrator kills off his alter ego Tyler Durden before setting off a chain of explosions destroying all bank and credit records -- was restored.
“Rise of Gru” made efforts to cater to a Chinese audience, with its plot centering around a fight over an ancient Chinese talisman that can summon the superpowers of the Chinese zodiac. Other Chinese elements like jade pendants, Kungfu, and dragon dances also run through the movie.
Last week, China said it wants US filmmakers to show more cultural respect, a rare comment from the Communist Party’s publicity department after the country brushed off a series of American films. Only 28 American movies were released in China last year, accounting for just 12% of total market share, down from more than 50 titles in 2019 that added up to about 32% of box office revenues, according to ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment.