Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore has been edited for release in China to ensure any gay references have been removed.
The fantasy sequel, which has an estimated budget of $200m, contains allusions to a romantic history between the characters of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, played by Jude Law and Mads Mikkelsen respectively. Six seconds of dialogue, including the lines “Because I was in love with you” and “The summer Gellert and I fell in love”, were taken out for the Chinese release on 8 April.
“As a studio, we’re committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release, and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors,” studio Warner Bros said in a statement. “Our hope is to release our features worldwide as released by their creators but historically we have faced small edits made in local markets.”
The studio insists that despite the cuts, “the spirit of the film remains intact”. While dialogue has been removed, there are still references to the pair sharing a close bond. Only 37 foreign films are released in China every year.
While the film opened at the top of the box office in China last weekend, globally the opening was seen as a disappointment with just $58m from 22 markets, lower than its two predecessors.
The news follows a string of similar cuts both for the big and small screen in China. In February, there was backlash when the re-release of sitcom Friends was stripped of its lesbian storyline, while the Sex and the City spinoff And Just Like That also aired with all gay references taken out.
In 2019, Bohemian Rhapsody was released with any mention of Freddie Mercury’s sexuality removed and in star Rami Malek’s Oscar acceptance speech, the subtitles on Chinese television changed “gay man” to “special group”.
While homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997 and removed from an official list of mental disorders in 2001, life under the rule of Xi Jinping has been more conservative and restrictive for many LGBTQ people. In January, gay dating app Grindr was taken off the Apple store and last year the country’s dominant social media service, WeChat, deleted many LGBTQ accounts.