No, this is not The Onion, cinemas in Hong Kong have pulled Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey from their lineups due to “technical glitches” which it’s a bit odd that it happened to all copies of just this film in multiple theatres… All signs point to Chinese authoritarian censorship.
For those not familiar, all images of Winnie the Pooh, that loveable honey-addicted bear who is all about doing nothing because it could lead to something, who in recent years has entered the public domain, is banned in China. I know many are chuckling right now because they already are aware of the reason why, but to those of you who are not aware, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in short, had his feelings hurt after many people in and out of China have compared his likeness to that of the Silly old Bear.
This rift between the authoritarian leader and the fictional children’s character started in 2013 in which after Xi met with then-President Barack Obama where footage of them walking side by side was commented on by many Chinese internet users comparing the two leaders looking like Pooh and Tigger. Shortly afterward the memes started to roll in and it became too much that the Chinese government (more than likely under Xi’s orders) banned all images of Winnie the Pooh, even the blood-soaked slasher version. It should be noted that China has a long list of banned pop culture that’s longer than the great wall that even extends to its own films and movies, including historical dramas where they censored the cleavage of actresses who were wearing historically accurate court dresses.
The censorship of the film in Hong Kong will most likely not affect the film as it’s already done well at the box office and has prompted the film’s director Rhys Frake-Waterfield to consider giving the same cinematic treatment to Bambi and Peter Pan.