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January 22, 2013 by · 7 Comments 

Three months after it debuted in most of the world, Cloud Atlas finally came to China on Monday, with 39 minutes removed by Chinese censors. That is likely the biggest chunk of footage ever deleted from a Hollywood film, but the film’s directors, Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Twyker, speaking to a news conference in Beijing, appeared to accept the cuts, even though they were not involved in the re-editing. The film was co-produced by China’s Dreams of the Dragon Pictures. The company’s CEO, Qiu Husahun, did not describe what sort of cuts had been made but told the news conference that audiences in China prefer “more of a popcorn movie” and spoke of a “Chinese version of the film.” However, the comments appeared to rankle co-director Lana Wachowski, who told a reporter for, a state-owned online news outlet, “It sucks really … but I believe you can watch the full version online.” She was presumably referring to pirated copies of the film which has been available via BitTorrent sites for months. (At a time when Chinese journalists are themselves pressing for relaxation of censorship rules, it is interesting to note that that the writer of the report commented, “It is horrifying to learn that … nearly 40 minutes of content were left out of the final Chinese version.”) Qiu was not at all sanguine about the prospect of Chinese viewers watching pirated copies. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he invested $10.5 million in the film, paid $3 million for distribution rights, and shelled out another $5 million for a 9-percent stake of the film’s revenue. He told the Chinese site that for him, pirating “remains a big problem. We invested so much money, there are so many artists involved, and we spent so much energy to create it. All has been stolen.” The delay between the film’s release in other countries and its release in China encourages piracy, he indicated. “If we are going to do another movie like this we must screen it in China at the same time as in other nations.”