There was a surprise change to Fight Club made recently that completely altered the ending of the cult classic film. In almost unintentionally hilarious fashion, a version in China cut away from the ending of the film to instead explain that Edward Norton and company didn’t actually get away with the massive caper, that the authorities actually stopped everything before the master plan went off. It caused something of a social media stir with folks using it as yet another example of questionable censorship practices by the country.
But now, Tencent Video (via The Hollywood Reporter) has restored the movie’s original ending, deciding to give viewers the actual movie culmination that American audiences have always seen. While there wasn’t an official explanation from the company regarding why they went back to the movie’s intended ending, it is likely because of the considerable backlash the company received over censorship. This isn’t always the case with Chinese decisions around whether media is acceptable under their current standards around messaging, but in this case, they made the pivot.
Tencent Video made a change to the final scenes of Fight Club in which Edward Norton’s Narrator character and Helen Bonham Carter’s Marla Singer stand to watch the fruits of Project Mayhem’s labor play out in the form of massive explosions in nearby buildings. With the Narrator having cleared away Tyler Durden with a bullet through his own cheek. They are then free to watch the supposed crumbling of the entire credit system by way of explosives play out across the skyline.
Instead, Chinese audiences were given a cutaway at the ending of Fight Club with an explanation of what happened next. It said, “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.” This was thought to have been done, in part, because of Chinese rules around characters who challenge authority being given “proper” punishment in the end. Fight Club, the movie, clearly doesn’t go down that way. Tencent cut out 12 minutes in total at the outset but has now restored 11 of them back to the original.
Interestingly enough, Chuck Palahniuk, who originally authored Fight Club, had commented about the censorship issue and pointed out that the way the Tencent version went down was actually much closer to the book’s ending. At the end of the novel, the narrator shoots himself and wakes up in a mental institution. David Fincher changed this for the film. Palahniuk commented to TMZ that his book was actually banned in a number of American institutions (like schools and prisons) adding a dose of irony to the whole situation.
Fight Club is one of the all-time cult classics, having stayed relevant over the years because of its commentary on society, listlessness, consumerism, masculinity, adult angst, and much more. And it delivers some iconic performances from Norton, Brad Pitt, and Bonham Carter among others. It’s nice to see the movie restored to the original ending, even if the Tencent one happened to mirror the actual book a bit more closely.