Oscar-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is set to be released in some Chinese cinemas, but reportedly with queer content and drug use censored.
At least one minute of key footage in the film showing Mercury’s bisexuality are set to be cut, according to sources who spoke to the Hollywood Reporter, including kisses Rami Malek’s Mercury shares with other men.
Portrayals of drug use will also reportedly be removed when the film gets a limited release in the country in mid-March.
The film’s release is by the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas, which is partly funded by the state-supported China Film Archive.
But if enough cinemagoers buy tickets, other cinemas may pick up Bohemian Rhapsody for a wider release, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Earlier this week Bohemian Rhapsody won four Oscars, including Best Actor for Malek.
But a Chinese broadcast of Malek’s Oscar speech on streaming was slammed for mistranslating “gay man” to “special group” in its subtitles.
While accepting his best actor Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, Malek said in his speech, “We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself.”
But the broadcast’s subtitles translated “gay man” into “special group,” sparking outrage on Chinese social network Weibo.
Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but gay content in film and television is frequently censored.
Call Me By Your Name was pulled from the Beijing International Film Festival last year, and 2005’s Brokeback Mountain was banned altogether.
Bohemian Rhapsody has become the highest-grossing music biopic ever, despite a troubled production process and controversy surrounding the film after director Bryan Singer was sacked amid reports of “erratic behaviour” on set as well as subsequent allegations of sexual misconduct against him, which Singer has denied.
The film also won Oscars for film editing, sound editing and sound mixing, but missed out on the Oscar for Best Picture, which went to drama Green Book.