David Fincher has spoken out about the censoring of Fight Club.
The 1999 film, directed by Fincher and based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk, made headlines in January after it was released to streaming services in China with an entirely new ending.
In the original ending, Edward Norton’s Narrator (spoiler alert) shoots himself in the face in order to kill off his alter ego Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Before the credits roll, the Narrator and Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) hold hands while watching the buildings around them explode as part of Durden’s master plan. In the version that was released to Chinese streaming service Tencent Video, the final scene is replaced with a title card that says local authorities stopped the bombs from ever going off and Tyler Durden was sent to a psychiatric hospital.
According to Variety, Fincher responded to the censorship in a recent interview. “It’s funny to me that the people who wrote the Band-Aid [ending] in China must have read the book, because it adheres pretty closely [to the final pages of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel.” Palahniuk echoed a similar sentiment last month, pointing out the irony in the new ending.
Fincher went on to explain that a company licensed the film from New Regency to show it in China with a boilerplate contract that explained that cuts may or may not be made for censorship purposes. “No one said, ‘If we don’t like the ending, can we change it? So now there’s a discussion being had as to what ‘trims,’ means.”
“If you don’t like this story, why would you license this movie?” Fincher continued. “It makes no sense to me when people go, ‘I think it would be good for our service if we had your title on it...we just want it to be a different movie.’ The f***ing movie is 20 years old. It’s not like it had a reputation for being super cuddly.”
Fight Club’s ending was ultimately restored after the censorship was met with public outcry. Twelve minutes of the film were initially cut and now 11 minutes have been restored. The missing minute is reportedly comprised of scenes of brief nudity between Tyler and Marla.
Fincher's next film is The Killer, starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, and is set to premiere on Netflix. In the meantime, check out our list of the best Netflix movies.