For those of you who don’t know, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) decided to block movies and television of the time travel genre in March of 2011.
According to Raymond Zhou Liming, a film critic and journalists in China, “The rationale [for the time travel ban] is that whatever isn’t possible in the real world belongs to superstition.”
The current prohibition was covered by major media news outlets ranging from The Guardian to the Hollywood Reporter when the story first broke. While no one knows how far the ban will go, it is safe to say that it will have an impact on how foreign films of the time travel nature will be promoted and distributed in China from now on.
In fact, one recently released American made Sci-Fi thriller The Investigation of a Time Traveler will suffer. It already won’t show up on searches in Baidu.com, China’s largest search engine.
The Investigation of a Time Traveler is the story about a homeless, schizophrenic doctor who has invented a time machine. The doctor is being investigated by a rogue detective for the disappearance of his wife, Mia.
The movie is a mind bending crime drama, mixed with elements of time travel, filmed predominantly in the seedier parts of Los Angeles.
A representative for the movie The Investigation of a Time Traveler states, “It’s disappointing because we were looking forward to tapping the Chinese market with our film. Based on this new ban, it’s not even worth trying to distribute it there.”
He continued, “What really hurts us is that the words time travel are actually in the title and the main character uses a time travel device.”
China is a large emerging market, approximately 1.35 billion people as of 2012, and not being able to sell a time travel themed film there can really hurt a filmmaker’s bottom line.
Indeed, it’s enough to make sci-fi fans everywhere cringe. Still, sci-fi fans in China are bound to get their fix somewhere despite the ban.
As a matter of fact, Looper starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt has actually become a hit in China despite the ban; however, rewrites of the script were demanded showing China as a super power in the future before distribution was allowed there.
The Investigation of a Time Traveler can be downloaded at www.timetravelermovie.com.