Winnie the Pooh Banned in China. Uncanny Affinity With President Xi?

Published August 7th, 2018 - 12:37 GMT
(Walt Disney Pictures)
(Walt Disney Pictures)

Disney's Winnie the Pooh film, 'Christopher Robin', has been denied release in China.

The live-action family film, an adaptation of AA Milne's classic story, has been banned by Chinese censors, according to various media reports. 

While no official reason has been given, Chinese President Xi Jinping's appearance was previously unfavourably compared to Winnie the Pooh's, prompting a large-scale crackdown on the honey-loving cartoon bear.

News of the film's ban was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter. 

Cathleen Taff, head of distribution for Disney, has confirmed with Sky News that the film had been denied a China release.

Comparisons between Xi and Pooh first emerged in 2013, after Chinese social media users began circulating a pair of pictures that placed an image of Pooh and his slender tiger friend 'Tigger' beside a photograph of Xi walking with then-US president Barack Obama. 

In 2014, a photographed handshake between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was matched with an image of Pooh gripping the hoof of his gloomy donkey friend Eeyore.   

The lovable but dimwitted bear has become a symbol of dissent in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, which is highly sensitive to unfavourable depictions of its leader. 

Government censors has been erasing the images that mocked Xi on social media. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after 'Last Week Tonight' host John Oliver highlighted Xi's sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

In 2015, the political analysis portal Global Risk Insights called a picture of Xi standing up through the roof of a parade car paired with an image of a Winnie the Pooh toy car 'China's most censored photo' of the year. 

China's foreign film quota allows a maximum of around 34 foreign films to be imported into the country per year. 

The only other Disney film this year to receive a no-go from China was sci-fi film 'A Wrinkle in Time'. Disney will open 'Ant-Man and The Wasp' in China on August 24. 

Although 'Christopher Robin' won't be shown to the country of 1.3 billion people, it made a solid debut in the US last Friday, grossing US$24.6 million (£19 million) in ticket sales.

Made for an estimated US$75 million (£58 million), director Marc Forster's live-action Winnie-the-Pooh revival stars Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Christopher Robin reunited with the beloved characters of the Hundred Acre Wood. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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