While moviegoers in America have been able to watch the new Minions: The Rise of Gru movie since July 1st, the movie just premiered in China last week. Quickly viewers noticed there was something different about the Chinese release.
DuSir, a well known film critique blog, noted on the social media site Weibo that the Chinese release was one minute longer than the international release. Across the internet, conversations quickly spread about the reason for this addition. Photos also circulated showing some extra content tacked on at the end.
The explanation seems to be an epilogue tacked on to alter the original ending. In the international version, Gru and fellow villain/protaganist Wild Knuckles successfully escape without punishment, setting up the events to previous movies, to which this one serves as a prequel.
However, in the Chinese version a few extra lines of text are slapped into the epilogue, explaining that Gru became a family man and that Wild Knuckles did not actually escape but was instead successfully apprehended by authorities and sent to prison for 20 years off-screen.
Not to overanalyze a children’s movie, but this does undercut the previous scene of Wild Knuckles successfully escaping detection by faking his own death. In reality, this likely reflects not so much a creative decision but rather an effort by Chinese censors to infuse messages of law and order into films released in China.
It’s not the first movie to have its ending changed in the Chinese release. Fight Club’s ending was famously altered as well – although in a strange twist the author of the book the movie was based on says that the edit makes the movie truer to his book. And many other movies received treatment from censors in China.
Still, the new Minions movie is a lighthearted comedy meant for children, hardly dealing with difficult themes. The film was edited with a Chinese audience in mind, with Flora Zhao working on the film to help align it with Chinese culture. As China remains an even bigger film market, we will continue to see films with similar alterations.
Of course movies are always tailored to fit the target audience. Any major film goes through significant market testing before release, and children’s comedies are no different. Still, it is funny to see an alteration made so sloppily after the fact, and one that clearly runs counter to part of the story.