‘Fight Club’ Has a Totally Different Ending in China
American movies that want to be shown in theaters or on television in China are often subject to censorship (or self-censorship) to ensure they will be approved for Chinese release. Sometimes, this amounts to a few minor trims of language or images. Other time, the changes that have to be made get much more drastic.
Case in point: Observe what Fight Club looks like on the Chinese streaming site Tencent Video. As we all know (or if we don’t all know, get ready to know because spoilers for the end of the movie are coming), Fight Club concludes with the unnamed Narrator (played by Edward Norton) realizing that his friend Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) is actually a manifestation of his own brain and a wicked case of dissociative identity disorder. After initially trying to stop Tyler’s plot to blow up several buildings containing bank and debt records, the Narrator instead “kills” Tyler and then observes the chaos his alternate personality has wrought.
That’s the version in David Fincher’s cut of the movie. According to Vice, the version that is legally available in China is completely different, omitting the explosion and instead ending with a title card that reads “Through the clue provided by Tyler, the police rapidly figured out the plan and arrested all the criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to a lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
Vice couldn’t get an official comment from anyone, including Fight Club’s American copyright holders, about who made these changes, but an unnamed source told them it “was edited by the copyright owner and then approved by the government before it was sold to streaming sites for distribution.” Wouldn’t you love to know what David Fincher thinks of this? Do these sorts of changes have to made with the director’s approval?
In America, Fight Club is currently streaming on IMDb TV. The original ending is intact, although you’ll have to sit through some commercial breaks to watch it.