David Fincher has responded to China’s censoring of the ending of Fight Club.
Back in January, the 1999 film hit headlines after it emerged that its final scenes had been altered on streaming platform Tencent Video, replacing The Narrator (Edward Norton) killing off imaginary alter ego Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) and watching buildings collapse.
Instead, a blank slate reads: “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to a lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment.”
Now, in a new interview with Empire, Fincher has spoken out about the edit.
“It’s funny to me that the people who wrote the Band-Aid [ending] in China must have read the book, because it adheres pretty closely,” he said, referring to the fact that in Chuck Palahniuk’s novel on which the film is based, ‘Jack’ is in an institution at the end.
When asked about the ending, he replied: “Here’s what we know. A company licensed the film from New Regency to show it in China, with a boilerplate [contract]: ‘You have to understand cuts may be made for censorship purposes.’ No one said, ‘If we don’t like the ending, can we change it?’ So there’s now a discussion being had as to what ‘trims’ means.”
He continued: “If you don’t like this story, why would you license this movie? It makes no sense to me when people go, ‘I think it would be good for our service if we had your title on it… we just want it to be a different movie.’ The fucking movie is 20 years old. It’s not like it had a reputation for being super cuddly.”
Following a backlash to the cut, streaming service Tencent reportedly restored 11 of the 12 minutes cut in its version, only keeping a sex scene between Durden and Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) out.
China has strict rules on censorship, which may have explained the original cut ending, though it is unclear if the backlash has led to the restoration. NME has reached out to Tencent Video for further comment.