The Lord of the Rings has been pulled from Chinese theaters and replaced with a pre-Cultural Revolution film series, ending just two weeks of a re-release period for Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy.
Several Chinese media reported this week that the Chinese Communist Party’s National Cinema Administration suddenly pulled Hollywood films, which were due to hit theaters this month, just in time for a 20th anniversary. Film adaptations of JRR Tolkien’s classic fantasy book series will now be replaced with CCP propaganda films, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the holiday, between April 1 and December.
According to several state-run Chinese media, the CCP’s advertising department has called for mandatory film screenings in theaters, prompting Chinese film commentators in the United States to denounce the move.
At least eight CCP-approved films have been shown in Chinese theaters since April 1, just three days before Variety reported that The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in the trilogy, was to begin screening. Replacing Hollywood blockbusters will also mean huge financial losses for theaters.
Chinese portal Sohu reported on Monday that six of the CCP’s eight propaganda films made very little money during the first week of screening, especially compared to the hugely popular Lord of Rings reissue.
“But the Chinese film market is distorted, and no matter how much money Hollywood blockbusters may make, they still have to make room for the political needs of the CCP,” said Li Yanming, US-based current affairs commentator. The Epoch Times Monday. “Over the years, Hollywood has intentionally modified its films to meet the CCP’s demands for the Chinese market, but its schedule and box office are still controlled by the political needs of the CCP. This is also a tragedy for Hollywood. “
Nine of the 12 pre-Cultural Revolution films that are now set to replace The Lord of the Rings present stories about the rise and establishment of the CCP in Beijing and across China. Three of the films are set during the Korean War, which the Chinese government officially calls war to resist American aggression and help Korea.
Newsweek contacted WingNut Films, the US-UK-New Zealand film production company that released the the Lord of the Rings series, but had no response before publication.
Last week, The New York Times and several other outlets reported that a little-known Soviet version of Tolkien’s books, Khraniteli, has been freed. The 1991 film aired on Leningrad Television about 10 years before the much higher budget films directed by Jackson were released.