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China versus Men in Black: Censors chop 13 minutes from movie

Three scenes were cut from the latest film, with China concerned about the implications of ‘wiping memories’.

Singer Nicole Scherzinger - who appears in the latest Men in Black film - poses in front of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York to promote the film.
Singer Nicole Scherzinger - who appears in the latest Men in Black film - poses in front of the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York to promote the film.
Image: Mark Lennihan/AP

THE LATEST INSTALMENT of the Men in Black movie series has topped the box office rankings in China – but only after three scenes were cut from the film by local censors.

No less than 13 minutes of footage was chopped out of MIB 3 – in scenes which either depicted some Chinese people as aliens, or showed their memories being artificially wiped.

A number of scenes set in New York’s Chinatown district showed Will Smith being attacked by aliens who were taking on the form of Chinese restaurant owners and cashiers.

New York’s Chinese-themed broadcaster NTD TV cited China’s Southern Daily newspaper as also remarking about a third scene, in which Smith – having successfully fought off the extra-terrestrial enemies – erases the memories of a group of Chinese bystanders.

As the newspaper suggested, the use of technology to wipe the memories of the general public could be interpreted as a nod to China’s “use of internet censorship to maintain social stability”.

The regime’s so-called ‘Great Firewall of China’ is well known around the world as being utilised to block any communications including politically sensitive issues like the 1989 protests at Tiananmen Square, or the names of known political dissidents.

Data from Box Office Mojo showed MIB 3 as overcoming Marvel Avengers Assemble at the top of the weekend box office takings in the United States, with a total gross of $69 million in its opening weekend, compared to the latter’s $47 million.

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Gavan Reilly

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