Monster Hunter has been pulled by Chinese movie theaters over the recent racism backlash. Paul W.S. Anderson’s highly anticipated movie is based on the video game franchise of the same name. It premiered in China last night, well ahead of the Christmas Day release in North America, where it earned just over $5 million. The earnings were reportedly good enough to nab the third spot at the Chinese box office this weekend, though that has all changed now.
Theaters all around China have started to drop Monster Hunter from their rosters. Viewers noticed that the movie references an outdated and racist phrase “Chi-nese, Japa-nese, dirty knees.” After midnight in the area, theaters were directed to issue refunds from tickets already purchased and asked to pull the movie from advertising. “A new version is being produced overnight, and should be the one screened… Theaters should please strictly observe that the old version should not be further screened a single time,” one announcement read.
However, it seems that even the new cut of Monster Hunter is being shut down by Chinese authorities, although that has not been officially confirmed as of this writing. Whatever the case may be, people are not happy about the joke utilized in the movie and are announcing their displeasure on China’s version of Twitter, Weibo. Even the edited version is being called out. “Hah, so you’d rather cut out the insulting part in the night without banning it outright? Sure, go ahead and help the foreigners save face!” says one Weibo user. Now, the movie is getting terrible reviews all over the internet.
Some have pointed out that the English dialogue in Monster Hunter did not directly translate the aforementioned racist joke. The joke transcribed is reportedly a Chinese idiom that means “gold can be found under knees.” Regardless, China is not happy with the film and it is already reaching out to the Monster Hunter video game franchise too. “Capcom is dead to me!” wrote one person on Weibo, while another says, “I don’t recommend this game just because of its movie racism.”
Some believe that the scene in Monster Hunter is more about camaraderie than anything else and claim that it is light hearted. Others believe the reference to “Chi-nese, Jap-a-nese, dir-ty knees, look at these,” brings up times of racism and schoolyard bullying. The hashtag “Monster Hunter Insults China” is currently trending on Weibo and it is still gathering steam. At a time when studios are struggling to bring their movies into theaters, this backlash could end up hurting even more. Movie theaters in North America are largely closed and have been since the beginning of the year, so any international box office money is a plus. Monster Hunter will be missing out on some Chinese box office earnings when all of the dust finally settles. Variety was one of the first outlets to report on the Monster Hunter backlash in China.