Fight Club has arrived in China, 23 years after its release – but it arrives with a different ending.
This article contains spoilers for the international and Chinese endings of Fight Club.
Never mind the first rule of Fight Club; it’s surely the first rule of any film is that you don’t change the ending in a way that completely dismisses the spirit, tone and messaging of the original story. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what’s happened in China, where David Fincher’s grungy, late-nineties ode to anti-corporate anarchy has been retooled for the Chinese market, stripping it of its anti-establishment ending and finishing instead in a sanitised ‘happy ending’, according to The Guardian.
Of course, films being recut, sometimes even given new endings, is not particularly unusual for the Chinese market, but Fight Club being reconfigured by a large corporation, simply to make a few more dollars, likely has director, David Fincher smiling bitterly about the irony, give his film’s pronounced critique of capitalism.
Instead of the film’s original ending, where Edward Norton’s character shoots Tyler – his imaginary other self – then watches as the skyscrapers of capitalist America are reduced to rubble by Project Mayhem’s bomb plot, the moments following Tyler’s ‘death’ are instead succeeded by a page of text, which confirms that the police foil the bomb plot.
Equally egregiously, Tyler (we presume they mean Edward Norton’s character, rather than Brad Pitt’s) is taken to a ‘lunatic asylum’, treated and released thirteen years later, presumably cured of all of his dissatisfaction with modern life.
Fight Club is of course renowned as a film which challenged capitalism, and was reported to be the reason why then president of Fox, Bill Mechanic, was fired. The owner of Fox at the time, Rupert Murdoch, was said to more favour films like Titanic over Fight Club. Can’t think why.
For a film so full of ironies like that one, the recutting of the ending in China simply reinforces the messaging that Fincher and his collaborators were trying to squeeze through the Fox system all those years ago. China-based film fans who already know the ending, through piracy and bootlegs, are likely unhappy. And it does seem galling that a film which is essentially a satire, often mocking its own anti-capitalist messaging, has been censured so heavily, drawing attention once more to the heavy-handed nature of state intervention in the Chinese film market.
Thank you for visiting! If you’d like to support our attempts to make a non-clickbaity movie website:
Buy our Film Stories and Film Stories Junior print magazines here.
Become a Patron here.