“Fight Club” is almost back to its original state in China.
As of Monday, the film’s ending has largely been restored on the popular Chinese streaming platform Tencent Video, after fans complained in late January about the complete removal of the iconic final scene.
The finale of David Fincher’s cult classic shocked audiences when it first hit theaters in 1999. In a massive twist, the narrator, played by Edward Norton, realizes that Brad Pitt’s slick-talking Tyler Durden character is his imaginary alter ego, and kills him off.
In the last moments, the narrator stands with his girlfriend, played by Helena Bonham Carter, as they watch explosives blow up a cluster of skyscrapers — all part of what was originally presented to the audience as Durden’s plan to destroy consumerism by erasing bank and debt records.
But a drastically altered version on Tencent Video, which CNN Business viewed in January, cut out the entire scene featuring the explosions. Instead, it was replaced with a caption explaining to audiences that the authorities arrived just in time to save the day.
“Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding,” the caption read. “After the trial, Tyler was sent to [a] lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Users on Chinese social media complained about the drastic alteration, saying that it had spoiled a piece of classic film history.
In the latest version, that ending is mostly back — though the title still omits a scene featuring nudity, which was also missing from the version viewable in January.
While it’s unclear how or when edits to either version were made, It’s not uncommon for foreign movies to undergo heavy censorship before finding a legitimate broadcast home in China. And the Chinese companies that hold the rights to international films in the country often self-censor to appease regulators before general releases.
Tencent (TCEHY) declined to comment on Monday. But a person familiar with the matter told CNN Business that the latest version of the film was provided to the company by the distributor, which the Chinese tech giant then streamed.
An employee for the distributor, on the other hand, told CNN Business on Monday that it didn’t “have control” over the film’s content, and was not aware of the latest change. The company, a Guangzhou-based firm called Pacific Audio & Video, is affiliated with state-owned Guangdong Radio and Television.
Neither the China Film Administration nor the Cyberspace Administration of China, the internet regulator that oversees streaming platforms, immediately responded to requests for comment on Monday.