Who ya gonna call? If you’re in China, it won’t be the Ghostbusters.
Sony Pictures’ Ghostbusters reboot has reportedly been denied a theatrical release in China, the world’s second-largest market. The reason behind the decision — while not officially confirmed at this point — is believed to involve both the film’s supernatural content and something a bit more straightforward: lack of interest.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the country’s prohibition of films that “promote cults or superstition” in its censorship guidelines is one of the primary obstacles for Ghostbusters getting a theatrical release in China. The rule is a holdover from the secular ideology of the Communist Party, and has previously been cited as the rationale for banning films like Disney’s 2006 sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
The report indicates that Sony went so far as to change the official title for the film in China to “Super Power Dare Die Team” — removing the mention of ghosts — in order to make it more palatable to the Chinese review board. The translated title for the Ghostbusters remake is a play on the local name for the original 1984 film, which also didn’t receive a theatrical release in China, but is popularly known as “Ghost Catcher Dare Die Team” around the country.
The report also indicates that — along with the country’s secular restrictions — another, less controversial rationale might be at play in China’s decision not to release the film.
“Ghostbusters won’t be coming to China because they think it’s not really that attractive to Chinese audiences,” one anonymous Chinese executive reportedly told the outlet. “Most of the Chinese audience didn’t see the first and second movies, so they don’t think there’s much market for it here.”
Directed by Paul Feig, the Ghostbusters reboot stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones as a quartet of paranormal investigators (and exterminators) who are called upon to save New York City from a supernatural threat. The film is expected to feature cameos from some of the cast of the original film, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver.
Ghostbusters opens in U.S. theaters July 15.