Chinese audiences won’t be able to enjoy the new movie, “Christopher Robin,” because Chinese authorities are in the midst of a “Winnie the Pooh” crackdown, eliminating the “silly old bear” from Chinese popular culture.
Images of the cartoon bear, the creation of author A.A. Milne, but made popular by Disney animation, have become symbols of the anti-Communist resistance in China, and are often associated with opposition to China’s leader-for-life, President Xi Jinping.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Chinese authorities have effectively banned the live-action Winnie the Pooh spinoff movie, “Christopher Robin,” from theaters, apparently out of fear that images of Winnie the Pooh on the big screen will encourage rebellion, though the Chinese government gave no “official” reason for blocking the bear.
“Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping.” according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive.”
An insider tells the Reporter that the film likely won’t suffer from a limited Asian release, and that the Chinese may not object to Winnie the Pooh so much as they object to a glut of foreign films. There are already “several” projects in development for Disney in China, and other studios have embraced the Chinese market more fully in recent years, flooding the country so many movies, the government can pick and choose which ones to release.
Poor Pooh didn’t make the cut. Marvel’s “Ant Man and the Wasp,” and the Tom Cruise feature, “Mission Impossible: Fallout” did, however.