‘Django Unchained’ China Debut Mysteriously Delayed for ‘Technical Reasons’

Microbloggers speculate censors didn't care for Tarantino's film

"Django Unchained" was supposed to introduce Chinese moviegoers to the pop culture mashup world of Quentin Tarantino.

But a funny thing happened while the slave revenge western was preparing to make its Far East debut. The Chinese premiere of "Django Unchained" was abruptly canceled on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Officials cited  "technical reasons" for the sudden change of plans and did not say if screenings would be rescheduled.  "Django Unchained" would have been the first Tarantino film to get a Chinese theatrical debut.

"We regret that 'Django Unchained' has been removed from theaters and are working with the Chinese authorities to determine whether the film can be rescheduled," Steve Elzer, a spokesman for Sony, which is handling the film's foreign distribution, said in a statement to TheWrap.

From the sound of the report it appears Tarantino's ultra-violent film ran afoul of China's notoriously prickly censors.

According to Reuters, some microbloggers in the country postulated that a scene in which Foxx is strung from the ceiling and brutally tortured may have rubbed authorities the wrong way.

Tarantino reportedly made some slight alterations in order to have the film debut in China. Other movies such as "Skyfall" and the upcoming "World War Z" have made cuts or changed plot points to make them more palatable to Chinese censors.

Despite the headaches, China remains an irresistible target for studios increasingly reliant on foreign markets to bolster their profits. In 2012, the country announced it would loosen its quotas on the number of foreign films that screen in its borders by allowing for an additional 14 foreign movies to be shown in China each year.

The fruits of that expansion are already apparent. Last year, the country and its enormous population of moviegoers passed Japan as the largest international source of box office revenue in 2012. It contributed $2.7 billion to the worldwide box office, a 36 percent increase over the previous year. That kind of growth is leading some analysts to predict the country will eclipse the United States' contribution to box office revenue by 2020.