China won't release Christopher Robin in theaters, possibly because Winnie the Pooh is too "subversive"
On August 3rd, beloved childhood character Winnie the Pooh returned to the big screen in the live-action Christopher Robin. But not everyone was feeling nostalgic for the Hundred Acre Wood. In China, the movie, starring Ewan McGregor, was reportedly blocked from release because, as it turns out, Pooh Bear is actually a symbol of the resistance.
Although Chinese officials didn’t explain why they were keeping the movie out of theaters, an unnamed source told The Hollywood Reporter that it was probably related to the nationwide censorship of the honey-loving bear.
According to The Guardian, Chinese citizens have been using images of the cartoon bear to mock President Xi Jinping’s appearance. This has been going on since at least 2013, when a meme surfaced comparing Xi to the chubby Pooh and former President Barack Obama to Tigger. As a result, A.A. Milne’s character has been blocked from Chinese social media. And in June, The New York Times reported that John Oliver and his show Last Week Tonight had also been censored in China after a segment about the memes comparing Xi to Pooh.
However, it’s possible that China’s refusal to release Christopher Robin is unrelated to the Pooh backlash. Vox.com points out that China limits the number of foreign movies opening in its theaters; maybe the latest Disney film didn’t make the cut so other movies could open instead.
We may never know the true reason for the ban, but Winnie the Pooh fans who want to see what all the bother is about can check out the movie stateside—in theaters now.