20th Century’s “Fight Club” Ending Changed for Chinese Streaming

Vice reports that 20th Century Studios’ Fight Club is getting an entirely different ending in a new online release in China, where imported films are often altered to show that the law enforcement, on the side of justice, always reigns victorious over the villain.

UPDATE 2/6/2022:

  • After widespread backlash due to the original reports, as well as the clumsy censorship of the film’s ending, the original ending to the film Fight Club has been restored in China, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
  • According to the report, Tencent Video has now restored 11 of the 12 minutes originally cut from the film. The minute still missing are brief moments that feature nudity and intimacy.
  • Keeping spoilers relatively free, the finale is intact, in full, even with the anarchist suggestions to take down consumerism in place.

Originally Reported:

  • The 1999 film by David Fincher originally ends with the Narrator (Edward Norton) killing his split personality Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). With the female lead Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), he then watches all the buildings explode outside the window and collapse, suggesting Tyler’s anarchist plan to destroy consumerism is in the works.
  • The exact opposite happens in the edit of the same film released in China. In the version on the Chinese streaming site Tencent Video, the explosion scene has been removed. Instead, viewers are told that the state successfully busted Tyler’s plan to destroy the world.

  • “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” a caption said. “After the trial, Tyler was sent to lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
  • It’s unclear if the ending was altered out of self-censorship or by government order.
  • A source familiar with the matter said the film was edited by the copyright owner and then approved by the government before it was sold to streaming sites for distribution. The Chinese publisher of the film, Pacific Audio & Video Co., is an affiliate of the state-owned Guangdong TV.
  • Fight Club was only shown in Chinese cinemas during the Shanghai International Film Festival, although most Chinese fans have likely watched pirated versions of it.
  • Screenshots of the new ending went viral on Chinese social media over the weekend and offended many Fight Club fans who have praised the original ending as a cinematic classic. Some say the censorship is why Chinese viewers have preferred bootleg copies of foreign films.
  • Domestic films would carefully design their plots, dialogue, and casting to avoid anything that would trigger censorship. And foreign films that get approved often suffer from substantial cuts because some scenes are deemed too violent, sexually explicit, or subversive.