'Bohemian Rhapsody' Getting China Release...With Gay Content Cut Out

Bohemian Rhapsody will soon be rocking Chinese theaters — but it will be a truncated version of the Oscar-winning film. 20th Century Fox's hit Freddie Mercury biopic has received permission to open theatrically in China. But the Bohemian Rhapsody China release date with a caveat: the "gay content" in the movie relating to Mercury's bisexuality will be cut out.The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Bohemian Rhapsody has received permission to open in China sometime in mid-March, with the condition that at least one minute of cuts will be made to the film to remove portrayals of drug use and "several intimate kisses between Malek's Mercury and other male characters."

The permission comes as a surprise due to Beijing's past repressive stance on content featuring gay characters. The country even balked over Beauty and the Beast's "exclusively gay moment" that ended up being nothing more than a dance between two men — though the worldwide hit ended up making it to theaters uncut.

However it seems even the major international success of Bohemian Rhapsody, which has become a phenomenon in other Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, won't influence China's conservative stance on homosexuality. The film will only be getting a limited release in China, courtesy of the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas, a public-private initiative run by the state-supported China Film Archive and several commercial theater chains, according to THR. The NAAC focuses on cultivating art cinema in China — which doesn't quite apply to Bohemian Rhapsody, which is widely considered more of a mainstream hit than a critical darling. But THR reports that the limited release plan is sort of a compromise from China's Film Bureau, and a test run for the film: If Bohemian Rhapsody proves its staying power, then theater operators may expand its screen count.

It's a little ironic that Bohemian Rhapsody is facing Chinese censorship over its "gay content," when the film was soundly criticized for demonizing, or at least misunderstanding, Mercury's sexuality. The LGBTQ content in the film is fairly minimal as it is, so it's no surprise that the cuts that China is reportedly making amounts to only one minute.