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How Chinese Censorship Could Kill 'Crimson Peak's Potential Redemption

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | October 22, 2015 |

By Kristy Puchko | Industry | October 22, 2015 |

This past weekend, Guillermo del Toro broke open his tender twisted heart, pouring forth his love of gothic romance, which is forever intertwined with bits of gore and delicious camp. Yet Crimson Peak was met with mixed reviews and the $55 million passion project made a paltry $13.1 mil domestically. Of course, del Toro’s last effort—the big flashy robot-battling epic Pacific Rim—also had an underwhelming opening back in 2013. But it was saved by overseas numbers. In fact, its box office returns from China alone were enough to spur talk of a possible sequel. But Crimson Peak may not be so lucky.

THR explains that del Toro’s gothic thriller could run afoul of China Film Bureau, which has intensive rules about what kind of films they’ll allow within the nation’s borders. Fearful of films that “promote cults or superstition,” the bureau has been described as having an effective “no-ghost protocol,” which is a bad omen for Crimson Peak.

Distributors have run up against China’s censorship before, and so have offered alternate cuts to be able to cash in on the country’s massive movie going public. Iron Man 3’s Chinese edition offered bonus footage with national icon Fan Bingbing. Skyfall excised a scene where a Chinese security guard was killed, and most egregious Cloud Atlas chopped out nearly 40 minutes, ditching scenes involving sex and violence, to make it to Chinese theaters. A similarly drastic move would need to be employed for Crimson Peak to exorcise its goopy ghouls and ghosts, or a hasty title card slapped on the tail-end re-contextualizing them as hallucinations (a ploy that’s worked for local filmmakers). But there’s no indication at present that Universal is considering such drastic measures.

In any case, THR suggests Sony should watch and see how Universal deals, because next summer’s Ghostbusters could hit similar snags overseas. In the meantime, go see Crimson Peak. Yeah, it’s not the movie the trailers promised. Universal lied to you. But it’s awesome. So, go.

Kristy Puchko can’t wait do a DIY marathon of Pride and Prejudice (2005), Anna Karenina, and Crimson Peak. It would be so much perfection and longing and swoon and velvet…

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.