The iconic anarchist ending in David Fincher’s cult classic thriller movie Fight Club has now been changed in China – where the authorities win, and no buildings get harmed despite Tyler Durden’s (Brad Pitt) best efforts. Warning spoilers ahead!
Cinephiles in China in January 2022 were greeted with a surprise new version of the 1999 film, which had been made newly available on the streaming service Tencent Video. However, said new version of Fight Club proved to be pretty extreme, completely overhauling the flick’s anti-establishment message and themes that saw it initially skyrocket to fame, favouring another ending that has law and order being upheld.
Fight Club follows an unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) suffering from insomnia who meets a charismatic soap salesman – Tyler Durden. Tyler and the narrator, feeling trapped by consumerism, start ‘Fight Club’ as a way to beat out a cathartic release. However, Fight Club turns into an anti-consumerist extremist group. In the original’s ending, Tyler is revealed to be the narrator’s alter ego and is killed by the narrator, who then watches skyscrapers explode around him – hinting that Tyler’s efforts to bring down modern civilisation has begun.
In the new PRC friendly version of the flick, this monumental anti-establishment ending is replaced by a black screen. Instead of seeing buildings go up in flames, viewers are greeted with the following text: “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding”.
According to The Guardian, the new clip then adds that Tyler – despite being a dead figment of the narrator’s imagination – “was sent to a ‘lunatic asylum’ for psychological treatment and was later discharged.”
FIGHT CLUB’s ending for the Chinese release (on Tencent Video) was changed to this and now I’m waiting for someone to fanfic a sequel based on this censored ending. pic.twitter.com/zYB0bY3Dlp
— Courtney Howard @ #Sundance (@Lulamaybelle) January 24, 2022
Foreign films can only be distributed in China through organisations run by the Chinese state. As such, Hollywood often releases alternative cuts of films in the hope of clearing censorship, and reaching millions of consumers in the country. However, currently, it is unclear if this new cut was made by Disney – who currently owns the rights to Fight Club – or if government censors made them in China. Tencent Video is yet to comment on the matter.
Movies, TV series, and videogames are all being scrutinised and up for censorship if they don’t reflect the views of the Chinese government. Other Western films that have been altered include Bohemian Rhapsody, where scenes of drug use and gay romance were cut, and the X-Men movie Logan’s scenes of violence and nudity also got the chop.
Fight Club can be watched on the streaming service Hulu for all our US readers and on Netflix in the UK.