The long saga of whether Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained would ever be screened in China has ended, not with a bang but with a flop.
After being released for a couple of hours back in April, Django was pulled from cinemas and returned to SARFT’s cutting room floor (lined as it is with the broken dreams of directors both foreign and domestic). A new cut, with less violence and nudity – four minutes shorter than the original 161 minute cut – was eventually approved, and the film opened on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Columbia Pictures however, hardly anyone bothered to see it:
Django made up less than 10 per cent of total Shenzhen opening-day ticket sales and raked in just 1 million yuan (HK$1.2 million) nationally, according to a Shenzhen Evening News report. By contrast, science-fiction epic Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, took in more than 20 million yuan nationwide on its Friday opening.
Gewara.com, a mainland ticketing website, said Shanghai and Beijing reported fewer than 6,000 people buying tickets for the film on Sunday, compared with 50,000 for Oblivion.
The UME Cineplex in Shanghai reported an occupancy rate for Django of just 50 per cent on Sunday, and Beijing’s Wanda International Cineplex was only at 30 per cent, the China Daily reported.
Uncut bootlegs of Django have been available online and from your friendly local DVD man for months now, and are at least partly to blame for the movie’s poor opening. Sales of pirated copies were probably helped by the well broadcast fact that the version in cinemas was an inferior, castrated version of the film.
At least Django Unchained (Chinese Cut) didn’t have extra scenes added to sell Gu Li Do like Iron Man 3 did.