In a highly unexpected development, the Oscar-winning Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” will be coming to cinemas in China. The film has been approved for a limited release by China’s National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas with film review site Douban listing it for a March 22nd local release date.
This is surprising as China has some of the harshest restrictions on LGBT content in the world and the film features a bisexual lead character with several gay side characters so editing out or around them will be near impossible – and would certainly impact the runtime. It still remains unclear whether the film will run uncensored.
Chinese broadcaster Mango TV came under fire this week for censoring ‘Bohemian’ star Rami Malek’s Oscars acceptance speech with its translated subtitles for the sentence: “Listen, we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life unapologetically himself” and replaced the words ‘gay man’ with ‘special group’.
Mango TV was one of only two sites that live-streamed the Oscars in China, is owned by state-owned Chinese broadcaster Hunan TV, and faced intense criticism last year for censoring gay content out of its broadcast of the Eurovision singing competition – namely blurring out rainbow flags. It has gotten so extreme that cautious streaming platforms like iQiyi have blurred out the earlobes of images of men with earrings.