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"Django Unchained" gets May China release after "issues" resolved

A woman looks at a poster of the film "Django Unchained" outside a cinema in Beijing, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee
A woman looks at a poster of the film "Django Unchained" outside a cinema in Beijing, April 11, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Quentin Tarantino's violent slavery revenge fantasy "Django Unchained" will be released in China in May, its U.S. distributors said on Friday, and a Hollywood source said additional cuts had been made after Chinese authorities halted the film's initial rollout this month.

The movie was pulled from theaters in China minutes into its debut screenings on April 11 for "technical reasons," according to a Shanghai movie theater official.

The Chinese government censors all movies before they can be released. Scenes that contain nudity, politically sensitive issues, as well as extreme levels of violence, must be edited out before the film receives a go-ahead from the authorities.

"We are delighted that audiences throughout China will be able to experience 'Django Unchained' beginning Sunday, May 12th. There is tremendous excitement, anticipation and awareness for the film and we thank the local authorities for quickly resolving this issue," Columbia Pictures said in a statement.

Columbia declined to comment on what changes, if any, had been made or why the movie, the first work by Tarantino to be shown in the increasingly important Chinese film market, was pulled from movie theaters in China earlier this month.

Anticipation was high for the April opening of "Django" because of reports that it would have only minor cuts by Chinese censors, despite Tarantino's reputation for violence.

When its was pulled from movie theaters, Chinese media quoted industry insiders as saying the cancellation was probably due to some nudity that may have escaped initial attention.

A Hollywood source close to the film said on Friday that additional cuts had been made for the newly approved Chinese version but declined to elaborate on what they were.

The film stars Jamie Foxx as a slave-turned-bounty-hunter who wreaks revenge on slave plantation owners while on a mission to free his wife. It features Tarantino's trademark style of extensive graphic violence, along with dark humor, and in one scene Foxx's character is strung upside down wearing only a skimpy cloth.

China has become the largest international market for Hollywood films, with its box office takings for U.S. films growing by 36 percent in 2012, according to a Motion Picture Association of America report in March.

"Django Unchained" won two Oscars in February for Christoph Waltz's supporting actor turn as a dentist who became a bounty hunter, and for Tarantino's screenplay.

Columbia Pictures is a unit of Sony Entertainment.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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