Chinese movie fans have grown accustomed to Beijing censors cutting significant amounts of footage from R-rated Hollywood films.
Earlier this year censors lopped 14 minutes off Logan and eight minutes from Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. In those cases, the offending material was the movies' most graphic violence and gore.
That same rationale was behind most of the six minutes cut from Alien: Covenant, released in China Friday. But in Alien's case more than just bloodshed is missing from the Chinese release - Michael Fassbender's much-touted gay kiss with himself has also been removed.
China-based expats and local moviegoers were quick to pick up on the missing Doppelganger gay moment, which takes place late in the film between the two cyborgs Walter and David, both played by Fassbender. Many said the removal of the gay kiss is much more jarring than the various cuts to the film's violence, too.
"For the other missing parts you don't notice or know when it happens, but you can really feel something is missing where the gay kiss is supposed to be," says Yu, a 26-year-old assistant at an advertising agency in Shanghai, who saw the movie Satruday night with friends (and asked only to be identified by her last name). Yu said she had read about the missing kiss in local media reports and was waiting to see if she could guess where it was supposed to be.
China's stance on gay content has been inconsistent over the years. Multi-Oscar-winner Brokeback Mountain was denied a release, despite director Ang Lee's star status in the country. Gay-themed content also has been routinely blocked from television and streaming-video services. And yet, the widely discussed "gay moment" in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast was allowed to run uncensored in cinemas last year. In that case, Beijing authorities even highlighted their tolerance, with The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, tweeting: "Controversial gay moment kept in Disney's #BeautyAndTheBeast... requires no guidance for minor audience."
Reading that David and Walter kiss in Alien Covenant? Just saw it in Beijing & saw no such peck. Among the alleged 6 minutes cut for China? pic.twitter.com/ojmTBa7W6N
- Jamie Fullerton (@jamiefullerton1) June 17, 2017