“Bohemian Rhapsody” Approved For A China Release, But Without The Gay Bits

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” / Image via 20th Century Fox

Looks like Bohemian Rhapsody is getting the trim down again.

The Queen biopic with a now Academy Award winning lead and defamed director is making its way back to Asia, but the film will also be edited down to take out its LGBTQ themes.

The film received permission on Wednesday to open theatrically in China, but with some stipulations, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film will lose scenes portraying drug use and kisses between Freddie Mercury (played by Oscar winner Rami Malek) and other male characters.

For the all that work, the movie will only get a limited release in China. It will be distributed by the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas (NAAC), which is a program supported by commercial theater chains and the government’s China Film Archive.

That said, the film could expand to more theaters and showings if the initial limited run performs well. While a release date hasn’t been set yet, rumor is that the film will begin playing in China mid-March.

This situation mirrors the events that took place in Malaysia last year. Movie goers were upset to find 24 minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody cut from their screenings by Malysia’s censorship bureau. This included Mercury telling his fiancé, Mary Austin, that he’s bisexual and the drag scene for the song “I Want to Break Free.”

But, there’s no surprise that China is censoring LGBTQ content as the country has been known to do so to movies shown in theaters and online.

China was also recently in controversy for a streaming company Mango TV censoring the words “gay man” in their screening of Rami Malek’s Oscars acceptance speech.

During the speech, Malek said, “Listen, we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life unapologetically himself.”

However, Mango TV replaced the words “gay man” with the phrase “special group” in its translated subtitles. Screenshots of the moment were then shared repeatedly on Chinese social media, according to BBC News.

With China’s contradictory actions towards LGTBQ content and citizens, it’s no surprise that Bohemian Rhapsody is getting censored. But can the distribution and reach of an LGBTQ icon count at least for a minor win?

h/t: Hollywood Reporter, BBC News

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