Warner Bros. takes heat for removing film’s LGBTQ content to appease Chinese censors

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Some in the media have taken to Twitter to decry the recent news that the newest film in the Harry Potter universe would be cutting LGBTQ dialogue to appease Chinese censors.

Variety reported on April 12 that “references to a gay relationship in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ were edited out of the movie by Warner Bros. for the film’s release in China.”

According to the outlet, Warner Brothers “accepted China’s request to remove six seconds from the movie,” which runs 142 minutes.

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 08: Writer JK Rowling attends "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald" World Premiere at UGC Cine Cite Bercy on November 8, 2018 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – NOVEMBER 08: Writer JK Rowling attends ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald’ World Premiere at UGC Cine Cite Bercy on November 8, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The omitted content “alluded to the romantic past” between the film’s main characters, Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

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“The dialogue lines ‘because I was in love with you’ and ‘the summer Gellert and I fell in love’ were cut from ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore,'” the outlet explained.

Harry Potter creator JK Rowling officially declared in 2009 that Dumbledore, one the universe’s most important and powerful characters, was gay. Though no film or book in the Harry Potter franchise, nor any of the spin-off franchises, explored the wizard’s sexuality until this film.

As such, several members of the media, particularly the pro-LGBTQ media, felt jilted by the Warner Bros. move, voicing their strong disagreement on social media.

LGBTQ publication Out Magazine condemned the decision on Twitter, saying, “It’s a shame that, in 2022, certain countries are still censoring LGBTQIA+ characters in film and television.”

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Vox.com podcast editor Matt Collette mocked the decision, tweeting, “lololol ‘Only six seconds of the movie’s 142-minute runtime were removed.'”

In a subsequent remark, he blasted Warner Bros. and JK Rowling on this subject, tweeting, “so it seems likely that Warner Bros and JKR were never particularly willing to go there either.”

This image released by Warner Bros.  Pictures shows Jude Law in a scene from "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald."  The British actor says he spent an afternoon jotting down notes from author JK Rowling who talked to him about Dumbledore's life before becoming the world's most powerful wizard and a fan-favorite in the "Harry Potter" series.  He will portray the beloved character in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," which arrives in theaters on Friday.

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Jude Law in a scene from “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” The British actor says he spent an afternoon jotting down notes from author JK Rowling who talked to him about Dumbledore’s life before becoming the world’s most powerful wizard and a fan-favorite in the “Harry Potter” series. He will portray the beloved character in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” which arrives in theaters on Friday.

Detroit Free Press Pop Culture critic Julie Hinds blasted the corporate cynicism she felt was behind the move. “A major studio works its magic, making tolerance and acceptance disappear,” the writer tweeted.

BuzzFeedNews’ Brandon Wall called the move “pathetic.” He tweeted, “It’s pathetic how willing movie studios are to censor even the most perfunctory LGBTQ+ token moments (in this case, six seconds) in order to secure a China release.”

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Podcast host and director of marketing and commerce at Insider Intelligence Jeremy Goldman tweeted a sarcastic quip in response to the news, writing, “Warner Bros. cut some Fantastic Beasts 3’s gay dialogue in China. Ah, China, you never cease to not surprise us .”

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