Django Unchained, US director Quentin Tarantino's first theatrical release on mainland China, was sent to the chopping block of state censors, much to the dismay of many mainland film fans.
The Oscar-winning Western, which garishly depicts slavery in the American South in Tarantino’s trademark “exploitative style”, was approved by China's censors less than a month ago, but it was toned down for violence and gore, according to the film’s mainland distributors.
“The director has agreed to make slight adjustments to the film for different markets. These adjustments, to him, are a form of progress rather than a compromise,” Zhang Miao, director of Sony Pictures’ office in China, told the Southern Metropolis Daily . “These slight adjustments will not affect the film’s quality.”
Zhang said Tarantino will "darken" bright hues of blood depicted in the film and reduce the amount of blood splatter. He said it would be “regrettable” if the movie was not released in mainland China.
While many netizens expressed disappointment at the announcement, most were happy that a Tarantino film was finally making it to China.
“I really do not like the Sarft [State Administration of Radio, Film and Television] but I’m glad we will be able to see this film in the theatre!” a microblogger said on Sina Weibo.
The censorship body will come under the newly formed General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television as part of the central government’s recent bureaucratic reshuffling.
Django is the first of Tarantino's films to be cleared for release in the country where sexually explicit scenes, homosexuality, violence, sensitive political issues and other topics deemed inappropriate by censors are often deleted by state censors
“Tarantino, not [Sarft], made the edits to the film himself so I’m sure it will be just as good,” said another.
Despite the edits, the film will still be released in its 165-minute running time, the same as its US version. The film opens in mainland cinemas on Thursday.
“The era of slavery in 19th century America is very fascinating; I will still go and see the film as Quentin is one of my favourite filmmakers,” one netizen commented on the film’s official Sina Weibo page .
Several foreign films entering the mainland market this year were extensively edited. The mainland version of the latest James Bond movie Skyfall , released in January, had a significant number of scenes deleted. Science fiction drama Cloud Atlas had 35-minutes of film cut  for its mainland version.
After years of pressure, China last year agreed to increase the annual number of imported films from 20 to 34, in a year when 893 films were produced domestically.