The best way to deal with an onslaught of controversy is to try and get in front of it, but the producers of Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter are a little late to the party. The filmmaker’s work has never been lauded for excellent screenplays or the depth and quality of the dialogue, and even if the throwaway joke in question hadn’t offended an entire nation, it would still go down as one of the worst lines found in cinema this year.
However, Chinese audiences interpreted the gag as a racial slur linked to a rhyme that’s been used to denigrate immigrants for decades, and as a result, Monster Hunter was pulled from local theaters less than 48 hours after it was released in what was a hammer blow to the video game adaptation’s chances of commercial success. The movie only managed to rake in just over $5 million before vanishing, and now production company Constantin Film have released an official statement apologizing for any offense caused.
“Constantin sincerely apologizes to Chinese audiences for a line of dialogue contained in an early scene of Monster Hunter. There was absolutely no intent to discriminate, insult or otherwise offend anyone of Chinese heritage. Constantin Film has listened to the concerns expressed by Chinese audiences and removed the line that has led to this inadvertent misunderstanding.”
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A brief exchange between two characters in Monster Hunter exploded into a social media debate that also saw the movie and the video game series get downvoted and review bombed by people unhappy with the racist connotations of the joke, and even if Constantin remove the offending item, the action-packed blockbuster has already been tainted by association, with Chinese audiences almost certainly uninterested in parting with their money to go and watch it on the big screen.
On the plus side, Monster Hunter debuted at the top of the box office charts in every other territory it was released, but it isn’t exactly a home run when that tally comes to a paltry $2.65 million.