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Censored re-released 'Django Unchained' bombs in China

  • Article by: Daniel Miller Los Angeles Times
  • June 26, 2013 - 1:07 PM

“Django Unchained” had a long road to theaters in China — and without much of a payoff.

The film, which was initially removed from cinemas by the country’s censors, has attracted few moviegoers in the world’s second-largest movie market, grossing just $2.75 million — a stark contrast to the picture’s global ticket sales of $424 million, including $163 million domestically.

The Sony Pictures Entertainment movie was pulled from theaters the day it opened, April 11, with officials offering no reason for the move. However, after the Quentin Tarantino picture underwent an edit to excise a handful of graphic sequences, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television allowed it back into theaters on May 12.

By then, the film was forced to go head-to-head with the superhero hit “Iron Man 3,” the Tom Cruise sci-fi film “Oblivion” and the animated family picture “The Croods.”

What’s more, “Django” played on fewer screens when it went back into theaters. According to a source with knowledge of the film business in China, “Django” opened on about 6,200 screens in April but was down to roughly 5,700 screens when it was re-released in May. Also, Sony’s marketing campaign for the movie was at its most robust ahead of the aborted April bow, with very little additional advertising done before the May re-release.

Sony declined to comment.

“Django” was the first Tarantino film to receive a release in China, and there was a hope that the picture, for which the writer-director won the Oscar for original screenplay, had enough star power to attract Chinese audiences. The movie features Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, who won the Academy Award for supporting actor for his portrayal of a bounty hunter working in the South in the late 1850s.

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