Hong Kong cancels screening of 2008 Batman flick over Chinese antagonist

Hong Kong is scrapping the screening of The Dark Knight after government censors “recommended” against showing it. The concerns stem from the film’s Chinese antagonist as he is portrayed as being violent. According to the Hong Kong Free Press, parts of the film were shot in Hong Kong, but as Batman arrives in the city to pursue a corrupt Chinese businessman, who laundered money for a mafia group, the government has deemed it too violent to show.

Hong Kong’s Film Censorship Ordinance mandates that movie organisers are required to submit works to the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration for approval. All films must meet criteria relating to depictions of violence, offensive language or behaviour, and cruelty. Since the national security law came into effect, such censorship of movies and other media has been tightened. Authorities now must evaluate such media to decide whether it would be “contrary to the interests of national security.”

The film was also deemed to be inappropriate for screening in mainland China, with Warner Bros (its producer) opting to cancel such a screening over the “number of pre-release conditions” and “cultural sensitivities to some elements of the film.”

The Grounds, which is an outdoor event space at the Central Harbourfront, was originally scheduled to screen the 2008 flick but replaced it with Iron Man. A spokesperson says such censorship is common. The Grounds also noted that The Dark Knight is more violent than the first and third films in the trilogy. Those two films have a lower IIA rating from the OFNAA, while the second film is rated IIB, meaning not suitable for young persons and children.

“OFNAA felt that for an outdoor screening, the level of violence was not appropriate. This discussion is not unusual. It is a normal part of the licensing process.”

This is not the first time China has banned a movie. In 2020, the mainland banned the showing of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, for being disrespectful to martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

World News

Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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