Banned: Why Ghostbusters won't be busting anything in China

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Jul 13, 2016, 5:36 PM EDT

Everyone is excited for the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot! Even those who hate the relaunch beyond reason and have made a career of downvoting its trailers while yelling at people on the internet are still excited ... "from a certain point of view," according to ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi.

But today there is no joy in Mudville if you mean Mudville, China, because the new Ghostbusters film will not be released there. "Wuh-wuh-wuh-what?!" you might ask. And that's why we have articles on the internet, friend. To answer your stutter spurts. That's why we're here.

One possible reason is that China has some pretty strict censorship guidelines, one in particular that comes down pretty heavily against films that "promote cults or superstition." This kind of limitation originates from China's more secular, Communist era, but that doesn't mean Chinese regulators don't still lean on those rules when it suits them. For example, regulators denied Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest because its depiction of ghosts and cannibalism was deemed was too realistic. I would've banned that movie for not being very good, but that's why they call me Moviessolini. Don't be mad -- the trains would run on time and you never would've seen Blues Brothers 2000 if I were in charge!

Execs were likely concerned about this potential money-draining eventuality. The proof for this fear can be found in a change to the Chinese title for the film. The 1984 original was titled Ghost Catcher Dare Die Team (as was its sequel), but the 2016 Ghostbusters was dubbed Super Power Dare Die Team instead.

But it seems that Hail Mary might have been pointless, because regulations are likely a secondary reason for denying Chinese distribution. The first? China ain't afraid of no ghost! Or, put another way, China ain't that into no ghost!

Sources close to China Film Co., which is the dominant state-owned film body handling import and release of foriegn films, have claimed, "It's been confirmed that Ghostbusters won't be coming to China, because they think it's not really that attractive to Chinese audiences." The executive went on to admit that "Most of the Chinese audience didn't see the first and second movies, so they don't think there's much market for it here."

There's even rumors that Chinese distribution is such a pointless endeavor that Sony never actually bothered to submit the new Ghostbusters to Chinese regulators at all.

With mixed reviews and an overwhelming negative response from some classic Ghostbusters fans, Sony's reboot has been in a bit of a tailspin for some time now. There is currently an estimated domestic opening weekend of anywhere from $38 million to $50 million, but that won't touch the $144 million production budget, to say nothing of the millions spent on marketing.

Only time will tell how 2016's Ghostbusters will perform, but this latest news certainly won't do Sony, or their hope to reboot this franchise, any favors.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)