The subsection of the Chinese government responsible for screening domestic and international films prior to their release in the country has blocked the Disney film ‘Christopher Robin’ from being shown in China.
China did not release an official statement explaining the ban, but Winnie the Pooh has become an anti-establishment symbol in the country after activists started comparing Chinese president Xi Jinping to the character.
Xi has built a reputation around his totalitarian tactics and total lack of tolerance for criticism of any kind and has drawn the attention of many human rights groups across the globe.
‘Christopher Robin’ recently saw its U.S. release. The feature focuses on an adult version of A.A. Milne’s character, Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor). The MPAA gave the film a rating of PG, suitable for young children with parental guidance.
The Chinese government can cite a host of reasons for not allowing a foreign movie to be shown in China. In 2016, the country banned Sony’s ‘Ghostbusters’ remake, claiming the portrayal of ghosts to promote witchcraft and belief in supernatural powers.
Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers’ series has been extremely successful in the Chinese film market. And since the characters and scope of these movies rarely includes unexpected or problematic elements, each installment has been allowed to be screened in China.
As of the date of publication, Disney has not yet issued a statement addressing the situation.
In June, British-American comedian John Oliver mocked Xi on his weekly HBO comedy news show, ‘Last Week Tonight,’ including repeated comparisons between Xi and Winnie the Pooh, in solidarity with democratic grassroots political organizers in China. As a result of this broadcast, John Oliver was censored across many Chinese websites, specifically any mentions of the episode focusing on Xi and Winnie the Pooh.