Paul W.S. Anderson’s latest video game adaptation, Monster Hunter, is one of just two major releases set to hit the big screen before the end of the year, arriving on Christmas Day alongside Wonder Woman 1984. However, with the Chinese box office rebounding a lot quicker than every other international territory, it was given an early premiere in the country on Thursday.
In bad news for the studio, though, Monster Hunter lasted just 24 hours before being pulled after audiences interpreted a terrible line of dialogue in the script as a racist slur. Obviously, this is a huge blow for the movie’s chances of turning a profit at a time when business is on its knees, based on both the renewed strength of the marketplace and the fact that effects-heavy fantasy blockbusters always tend to play well in China, with Warcraft and Pacific Rim two of the more notable titles that were saved from financial disaster by a strong showing.
The offense and outrage stems from an exchange between two characters that’s been construed as a taunt towards Asian immigrants based on connections to the rhyme, ‘Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these,’ and you can check out the moment in question below.
Great writing in the Monster Hunter movie… pic.twitter.com/jTRnKOClCi
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) December 4, 2020
The most obvious issue here is how Monster Hunter managed to get past the notoriously strict Chinese censorship board without anyone flagging the potentially inflammatory incident, but regardless of how that might’ve happened, all showtimes have now been suspended. Meanwhile, locals are heading online to review bomb it into oblivion.
Even if theaters were operating at normal capacity, a lot of people were expecting Monster Hunter to perform poorly anyway, but the movie now faces certain doom after alienating what could have been its most lucrative market.