David Fincher’s cult-classic “Fight Club” was dramatically censored by a Chinese streaming service, and the author of the book the film was based on can care less.
The 1999 hit, which stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, originally ended with the Narrator (Norton) killing off his alter ego, Tyler Durden (Pitt), then watching Durden’s anarchist plot to destroy the nation’s credit and banking systems come to fruition as buildings blow up across the city.
The streaming service, Tencent, changed the ending to comply with Chinese film censorship rules, which dictate that bad guys must be punished for their crimes and society must continue to function normally.
In place of dramatic explosions demolishing buildings across the skyline, a blank screen appears along with the message: “The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding. After the trial, Tyler was sent to a lunatic asylum receiving psychological treatment. He was discharged from the hospital in 2012.”
“Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk, who published the book the film was based on in 1996, weighed in on the altered ending in his newsletter. “Have You Seen This S–t?” He tweeted. “This is SUPER wonderful! Everyone gets a happy ending in China!”
“Tyler and the gang were all arrested. He was tried and sentenced to a mental asylum,” Palahniuk wrote. “How amazing. I’d no idea! Justice always wins. Nothing ever exploded. Fini.”
“The irony is that the way the Chinese have changed it is they’ve aligned the ending almost exactly with the ending of the book, as opposed to Fincher’s ending, which was the more spectacular visual ending,” he commented to TMZ. “So in a way, the Chinese brought the movie back to the book a little bit.”
In the book, Durden’s plot to reset the economy fails when his bomb malfunctions. The narrator shoots himself and wakes up in a mental hospital, mistakenly believing he’s in heaven.
Palahniuk said it was ironic that Americans are outraged about China’s censorship of the film. “What I find really interesting is that my books are heavily banned throughout the U.S.,” he remarked.
“The Texas prison system refuses to carry my books in their libraries. A lot of public schools and most private schools refuse to carry my books. But it’s only an issue once China changes the end of a movie? I’ve been putting up with book banning for a long time.”
Dear Ted Cruz, Why is the novel Fight Club (as well as all my books) banned in the Texas prison system? Is that censorship? Or can only China censor things? Please hit me back.
— Chuck Palahniuk (@chuckpalahniuk) January 27, 2022