Chinese officials have cut a gay kiss scene – featuring Michael Fassbender making out with himself – for the cinema release of Alien: Covenant.
Censors in Beijing made significant edits to the film, slashing around six minutes of content in all.
Much of what they removed was violence and gore, in line with a long-standing policy to sanitize Hollywood releases before the Chinese public can see them.
But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, cinemas showing the film on release day last Friday also jarringly snipped out Fassbender’s gay kiss.
The scene featured two cyborgs – Walter and David – getting it on. Both are played by Fassbender.
The moment comes relatively late in the movie, which runs to 2 hours and 3 minutes when completely uncensored.
Audiences who saw the film in China said it was obvious that something significant had been missed out.
One speaking to THR said: “For the other missing parts, you don’t notice or know when it happens, but you can really feel something is missing where the gay kiss is supposed to be.”
As Heat Street had reported, China has a harsh but inconsistent approach to censoring movies, with variable standards on the depiction of violence and social issues.
In the past movies have been banned for featuring undead characters, such as vampires or zombies.
However, that rule appears to have been relaxed in a bid to prop up a slump in cinema profits.
Officials are also uneasy about depicting homosexuality – though there are exceptions.
There was widespread controversy over a “gay moment” in the recent Beauty and the Beast movie, which sparked a stand-off between Disney and Malaysian censors, who eventually agreed to show it.
But China stayed clear of that argument, and allowed the film to be broadcast without cuts.
China’s censors don’t offer public justification for their decisions. But from this it looks like some hints and insinuation of gayness are fine – while full on man-robot-on-man-robot kissing is just too much to take.