22nd March 2023 – (Hong Kong) Cinema-goers in Hong Kong seeking a twisted take on their childhood memories were left disappointed this week when the viral slasher hit Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey was pulled from cinemas.
VII Pillars Entertainment, the film’s distributor, released a statement apologising to fans after cancelling the Hong Kong and Macao screenings, citing ongoing technical issues. Pre-release screenings and ticket sales were also halted across several cinema chains in Hong Kong. Moviematic, who had organised a preview screening, announced on social media that their event had been cancelled due to unspecified “technical reasons.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the low-budget British film – which depicts Winnie and Piglet going on a cannibalistic rampage through Hundred Acre Wood – was due to launch in over 30 Hong Kong cinemas on Thursday. However, it was quietly removed from schedules, causing observers to speculate that the withdrawal was due to political pressure.
The film’s success internationally – it has already grossed over US$4m with launches in the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Russia and Australia.
A cut version of Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, which had toned down the gore, had already been approved by local censors in Hong Kong. Furthermore, a secret screening of the film took place in Hong Kong last week. Despite this, the film was abruptly pulled from cinemas, causing some to suggest that Hong Kong has now become subject to the same unofficial ban on the character that exists in mainland China.
In 2018, Disney’s live-action/CGI feature Christopher Robin, which presented a more palatable version of Winnie, was not approved by Chinese authorities. No reason was given at the time, but it was suggested that the country’s informal ban on images of the character came after he became a symbol of resistance against the ruling Community Party.