Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee reportedly made an appeal to China’s National Film Administration to rework the portrayal of her father before the release, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” which was originally set to hit local theaters on October 25, was heavily criticized by Lee’s friends and family who found the portrayal to be disrespectful.
In response to the backlash, Tarantino defended the characterization, claiming the martial arts icon was “kind of an arrogant guy.”
“Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” was co-produced by Sony with Chinese film distributor Bona Film Group. Incidentally, Bona is a subsidiary of China Poly Group, which is a state-owned defense manufacturing company. The hold order came as Bona and Tarantino were making changes to the film to pass the screening process.
In order to get a clearance for a Chinese release, films must be reviewed and, even recut by regulators when necessary. Even China’s most prominent directors are affected by the censorship rules.
So far, “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” has grossed $366 million worldwide and distribution in the Chinese market is expected to significantly increase its revenue.
Tarantino’s 2012 film “Django Unchained” was pulled from theaters just minutes before it was shown on opening night after a Communist Party official reportedly objected to the movie’s violence. After receiving heavy cuts, it was released a month later earning just $2.6 million as unedited pirated copies were already made available ahead of its release.