China’s Gone With The Bullets is primed to be one of the biggest films of the year — and has some thinking it could be the one to beat Transformers: Age Of Extinction’s all-time Middle Kingdom box office record when it releases on December 18. But a funny thing happened on the way to the movie’s premiere as even high-profile local films are not immune to the censorship board.
Local media is reporting that Monday night’s Beijing premiere was cancelled at the last minute on Sunday. Beijing Bu Yi Le Hu Film Company released a statement around midnight saying, “We are so sorry to inform you all that new circumstances arose during the final phase of the censoring of the movie, and we have to take time to make some final adjustments, so the premiere has to be delayed.” Sony Pictures Releasing International has rights to the film outside China.
Allaying fears of a total meltdown, producer Ma Ke said, “We can guarantee that the national debut date has not been changed,” according to China.org. The film is directed by Jiang Wen and is a sequel to 2010’s Let The Bullets Fly, which made 720M yuan ($117.5M) in China and $140M worldwide. As of late November, Gone With The Bullets had already pre-sold 120M yuan ($19.6M) worth of tickets. IMAX pre-sales had also broken the midnight premiere record of 4M yuan ($653K) set by Michael Bay’s Transformers 4.
Set in 1920s Shanghai, the lavish 3D Gone With The Bullets is based on a true story. Ma Zouri (Jiang) and Xiang Feitian (Ge You) establish a notorious beauty pageant called the Flowers Competition. All of the city’s elite attend the gala event, but when Wanyan Ying (Shu Qi) unexpectedly wins, it sets into motion a series of tragic events that change their destinies.
This is quite a turnabout for the film which has been promoted tirelessly this year and is the big-ticket title expected to thoroughly ensure China’s market share dominance in 2014. China.org says, “billboards, posters, red carpets and temporary IMAX screen for Monday’s premiere had all been installed at the Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium” when 3,000 reporters and VIP guests arrived in town on Sunday evening. Still, Jiang is no stranger to controversy: his 2000 war drama, Devils On The Doorstep, was banned locally for being “insufficiently patriotic.”
Folks who’ve screened Gone With The Bullets privately have been high with praise, the news outlet reported. Will this extra hype make it all the more attractive? Here’s another look at the trailer: