Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning movie, has been cancelled in cinemas across China on its opening day due to “technical reasons”.
A suspension order by importer China Film Group Corporation was confirmed by cinema employees.
It has led to speculation Django Unchained had not met the censorship regulations required by Chinese cultural authorities.
Distributor Sony Pictures said Quentin Tarantino had agreed to “slight adjustments” to reduce the violence.
Cinema manager Tian Zaixing said he could not recall any other imported film being halted on the opening day.
TianZaixing said the cinema had received a call at 10:00 local time to cancel the film.
“We had high expectations for this film’s box office,” he added.
“They didn’t tell us when the film would be shown again,” an official at a Shanghai cinema told Reuters.
Sony Pictures executive Zhang Miao said the changes to the film included “tuning the blood to a darker color” and “lowering the height of the splatter of blood” in an interview with China’s Southern Metropolis Daily.
Quentin Tarantino viewed the changes as “progress rather than a compromise” according to Zhang Miao.
Sony Pictures and China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), which is responsible for movie censorship, have not commented on the cancellation.
“After watching it for about a minute, it stopped!” said microblogger Xue Yi Dao on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo website.
“Staff then came in and said SARFT…had called to say it had to be delayed!! Can someone tell me what’s happening!!” he added.
Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s first film to be released in China, where cultural authorities restrict the number of foreign films in cinemas each year.
Chinese regulators often request changes to films to remove explicit scenes, violence and other topics deemed inappropriate for the audience in China – which is now the second-biggest movie market in the world.
Oscar-winning Skyfall, Cloud Atlas and the remake of Red Dawn, have all recently made changes to appease the regulators.