The studio behind the upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets’ has said it has agreed to China’s demands to remove all LGBTQ references from the film in order to ensure its release there.
After reports surfaced that Warner Bros. had bowed to Chinese censors and removed some lines of dialogue from the “Harry Potter” spin-off sequel, the studio has confirmed that “minor edits” have indeed been made to the film, which was released in China this year. past weekend.
The censored lines – “because I was in love with you” and “Summer Gellert and I fell in love” – refer to the longtime love between wizards Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen), who continued a romantic relationship as teenagers. The exchange marks the first time gay romance has been directly addressed in a ‘Harry Potter’ related book or film in the 15 years since author JK Rowling revealed Dumbledore is gay.
In a statement, the studio insisted that “the spirit of the film remains intact”, saying that the running time of “Secrets” has only been shortened by a few seconds for Chinese audiences.
“As a studio, we are committed to protecting the integrity of every film we release, and this extends to circumstances that require making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of factors in the marketplace,” said Warner Bros. in a statement to Variety. “Our hope is to release our features globally as published by their creators, but historically we’ve faced small changes in local markets.”
“In the case of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’, a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. agreed to these changes to comply with local requirements, but the spirit of the film remains intact,” continues the communicated. “We want audiences around the world to see and enjoy this film, and it’s important to us that Chinese audiences also have the opportunity to experience it, even with these minor edits.”
‘Harry Potter’ fans are particularly frustrated with the move, given the franchise’s checkered history with the queer community, as studios continue to prioritize global ticket sales over LGBTQ representation. significant.
“They made the choice to allow content censorship for the film to be released in China and take advantage of this distribution deal,” one Twitter user said. wrote. “They could have chosen not to. They decided it was worth censoring gay people. Consider this.
Rowling, who has been embroiled in her own controversy over her transphobic views in recent years, revealed Dumbledore was gay in 2007 after the release of the final book in the original ‘Harry Potter’ series. The books themselves gave no indication of the character’s sexuality one way or another.
The movies since then have yet to directly address Dumbledore’s identity as a gay man, angering LGBTQ fans who yearned to see themselves represented in the Potter universe. David Yates, director of all three “Fantastic Beasts” films to date, has caused significant backlash ahead of the release of the second film, which he says will “not explicitly” acknowledge Dumbledore’s sexual orientation.
At the time, Rowling teased that Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship would be unpacked during the five-part “Beasts” series. The last two films are still in development.
“You’ll see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man – he wasn’t always the wise one,” Rowling told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “We’ll see him at this formative time in his life. In terms of is about his sexuality…watch this space.
LGBTQ content and references to same-sex relationships are frequently purged from foreign films due to government regulations in China, where only a few feature films are allowed to be shown in theaters each year.
More recently, an edited version of the Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” was screened in Chinese theaters, with references to Queen singer Freddie Mercury’s sexuality removed completely.
Despite the backlash from domestic and overseas audiences, “Dumbledore’s Secrets” managed to top the Chinese box office, even though it only grossed $9.7 million in its opening weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In comparison, the first two “Fantastic Beasts” films opened in China to $40.4 million and $36.6 million. More than half of Chinese cinemas are currently closed due to recent outbreaks of COVID-19.
“Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets,” which also stars Ezra Miller, Jessica Williams, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol, hits theaters in the United States on Friday.