The news comes just hours after it was revealed that China had pulled the plug on Tarantino’s latest film only a week before it was due to open in theaters. Although the country’s National Film Administration never gave an official reason for their decision, it’s believed officials scrapped the film’s release because of the controversy surrounding Tarantino’s depiction of the Hong Kong-born Bruce Lee.
Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, has long opposed her father’s portrayal as an “arrogant asshole” in Once Upon a Time, and it’s rumored she may have personally requested that the NFA make Tarantino edit the film accordingly.
The film’s cancellation in China will no doubt cost a pretty penny for Tarantino. Also taking a major hit is its Beijing-based financier, Bona Film Group, which reportedly attempted to get Tarantino to recut Once Upon a Time in time for its scheduled premiere on October 25th. The feature also would have served as Tarantino’s first proper film release in China.
Still, despite there being millions of dollars and a career milestone on the line, Tarantino’s refusal to recut shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The two-time Oscar winner has never been keen on editing his films and as The Hollywood Reporter points out, often has final-cut rights built into his work contracts.
Additionally, Tarantino has ardently defended his depiction of the martial arts icon. “Bruce Lee was kind of an arrogant guy,” the 56-year-old director reportedly said during a press event over the summer. “The way he was talking, I didn’t just make a lot of that up. I heard him say things like that, to that effect.”
Revisit the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.