The upcoming Monster Hunter live-action film was pulled from Chinese theaters one day after it was released in the region on December 4 after a racially insensitive line was found to have passed by the China Film Administration. This has forced the regulators to delay the release of more films from abroad, including both Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba THE MOVIE Mugen Train and Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel Ⅲ.spring song.
The line in Monster Hunter was a play on a rhyme that used against people of Asian descent being dirty. The offending line was also then translated into Chinese with a similar meaning, which caused an uproar from Chinese netizens and eventually got the film pulled from theaters in China–a region where the film needed to do well during these times. Monster Hunter was co-produced by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, helping the film gain a strong foothold in the region before it was released.
Due to the film being pulled, the regulators have delayed the openings of most of the upcoming foreign films in the region to check them again, which is delaying the release of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, one of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year. The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Chinese entertainment company Bilibili has picked up the film for a wide release in the region after streaming the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba TV anime series as it aired in 2019. According to THR, Bilibilli was planning to have the film release in late December/early January to beat the Chinese New Years’ lockout in early February for foreign movies, meaning the film might be delayed to March.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the Japanese Blu-ray and DVD of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train will be released in late January though there have been no reports inside Japan about that. Mugen Train will be receiving a 4DX expansion in the next few weeks, extending its theatrical run and making a home release in the next few months unlikely. For a comparison, Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel Ⅲ.spring song, another Aniplex title, was released in theaters on August 15, 2020, and will see a home release on March 31, 2021.
The re-check of foreign films has also affected the release of Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel Ⅲ.spring song in the region, which may complicate earnings if the examination takes too long due to the release of the Blu-ray/DVD.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba THE MOVIE Mugen Train has so far made over 30 billion yen (US$290.1 million) at the Japanese box office, the second film in history to do so. Outside Japan, the film has become the top movie of 2020 in Taiwan and has had sizable showings in other South-East Asian countries, grossing more than US$315 million worldwide so far to make it the 5th highest-grossing movie of the year worldwide and the highest-grossing animated film of 2020 worldwide–the first time a non-American animated film has held that title since 1987.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs a YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.
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