Though the original ending of “Fight Club” has been restored on Chinese streamer Tencent Video, director David Fincher is still baffled as to why it was ever changed in the first place.
“A company licensed the film from New Regency to show it in China, with a boilerplate [contract]: ‘You have to understand cuts may be made for censorship purposes,’” the director explained in a recent interview with Empire. “No one said, ‘If we don’t like the ending, can we change it?’ So there’s now a discussion being had as to what ‘trims’ means.”
Fincher added that it wasn’t so much the trims themselves that bothered him, but why they were made. The director argued that Tencent Video shouldn’t have licensed “Fight Club” to begin with.
“If you don’t like this story, why would you license this movie?” he continued. “It makes no sense to me when people go, ‘I think it would be good for our service if we had your title on it… we just want it to be a different movie.’ The f—ing movie is 20 years old. It’s not like it had a reputation for being super cuddly.”
Previously, instead of the film’s original ending, Tencent had replaced the final moments with a title card explaining an entirely different ending. So, instead of seeing Project Mayhem blow up several buildings in the city, viewers got a black screen with the message: “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 a lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Fincher found some irony in that title card.
“It’s funny to me that the people who wrote the Band-Aid [ending] in China must have read the book, because it adheres pretty closely,” he said, pointing out the similarities in verbiage between the explainer and the final pages of Chuck Palahniuk’s book.
Tencent Video did eventually restore most of the original ending, after the censorship drew harsh criticisms from those in China and abroad. Now, eleven of the approximately 12 minutes cut have been edited back in, with only the frontal nudity shot and some sex scenes between Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter still excluded.