Nearly 40 minutes have been chopped from the Hollywood film Cloud Atlas for Chinese audiences, deleting both gay and straight love scenes to satisfy censors.
It premiered on Tuesday in Beijing in a red-carpet ceremony with actor Hugo Weaving and China's own Zhou Xun, but won't start running in Chinese cinemas until next Thursday. The filmmaker's Chinese partners have slashed that version from the US runtime of 172 minutes to a pared-down 134 to expunge the "passionate" episodes.
"The 172-minute version can be downloaded online ... so I am sure some people will prefer that to going to the cinema," said fan Kong Kong, 27, who lives in Shanghai.
Chinese citizens have recently become more outspoken, especially on social media, with complaints about censorship of imported films as well as the home-grown film industry and news media, much of it imposed over elements that might make China look bad.
Awkward cuts by the censors to the latest James Bond film Skyfall, which opened on Monday, prompted calls for a review of the film censorship system.
"Even these kinds of movies are getting censored, for what?" wrote Wei Xinhong, deputy editor in chief at Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing Bureau, on his Twitter-like Sina Weibo. "What kind of era do we live in today! Still want to control people's minds?"
He said he was left confused after watching China's version of the 007 film, which deleted a bloody scene showing a French hitman killing a Chinese security guard. It also changed the subtitles of Bond's conversation with a young woman in the Chinese territory of Macau about her past - references to her as a teenage prostitute morphed into a mention of her membership in the mafia.
The Cloud Atlas filmmakers say they are confident their film will retain its "integrity" despite being 38 minutes lighter. Executive producer Philip Lee said the filmmakers knew they would have to "follow the censorship requirements" to have it shown in China. He said he hadn't yet seen the censored version that will come out next week, but that he was confident that the Chinese distributor, Dreams of Dragon Pictures, had made the right changes.
China allows only 34 foreign films to be shown in its cinemas each year and 14 of those have to be in 3D or IMAX format. However, pirated DVDs of Hollywood blockbusters are widely available in China.
China's authoritarian government strictly controls print media, television, radio and the internet. China doesn't have a classification system, so all films shown at its cinemas are open to adults and children of any age.