The producers of the Monster Hunter movie have apologised after the movie was pulled from Chinese cinemas over a racist joke scene.
Over the weekend, Eurogamer reported on how Monster Hunter World was getting review-bombed on Steam because of a racist joke in the Monster Hunter movie.
The Paul W. S. Anderson-directed Monster Hunter movie launched in China last week - and was soon pulled from theatres after a backlash to a clip of the movie that shows an American soldier ask another American soldier: "What are my knees?... What kind of knees are these?... Chi-knees."
This "joke" was linked to the phrase "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees - look at these?", which has been called a racist playground chant in English-speaking countries used to mock children of Asian origin.
The subtitles mention a Chinese idiom as the joke is spoken in English. Rather than slip through unnoticed, this difference just contributed to the controversy.
In China, Monster Hunter developer Capcom was forced to issue a statement on Weibo distancing itself from the movie, saying it was the work of "different companies", and that it had reported the feedback to the movie makers.
Now, Constantin Film has issued an apology over the dialogue. Deadline reports Constantin said it "sincerely apologises 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".
According to Deadline, the Monster Hunter movie made $5.3m on Friday before it was pulled from cinemas. Tencent, which is handling the movie's distribution in China and is an equity partner in the film, is trying to convince the Chinese government and associated agencies to restore Monster Hunter to cinemas with the offensive scene removed, but it's unclear if it will be re-released. Constantin has yet to say whether the film will be altered for its western release.
The Monster Hunter movie was set for a 4th December UK release but was delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It's now due out during the first quarter of 2021.