The latest wholesome Disney family film has been refused a release in China.
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What possible offense could the beloved teddy bear cause anyone, especially an entire country?
No official explanation has been given but The Hollywood Reporter has just broken a story linking the release blockage to the ruling communist party – and specifically its leader Xi Jinping.
Apparently Winnie has become a symbol of rebellion and opposition, used to mock the president. There was a similar furore some years ago when social media wags compared Vladimir Putin to Dobby the House Elf from Harry Potter.
The Hollywood Reporter said: “A source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin.
“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. Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive.”
Judge for yourselves in the two pictures below.
To Western audiences this may seem hard to fathom, but another major US media giant has already fallen foul of the Winnie the Pooh ban.
THR added: “In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.”
It is a blow to Disney, especially after very poor performances by both The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
In the broader terms, though, China has already started to restrict the growing wave of Western blockbuster releases in order to protect its own homegrown movei industry.
This latest movie to fall foul of the clampdown stars Ewan McGregor as the adult Christopher Robin, opposite Hayley Atwell as his wife.
US audiences can judge just how offensive the bear is as it opens there today.
UK audiences will have to wait a little longer for one of our more treasured literary characters, and newly elected political agitator, to hit screens later this month.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN IS OUT NOW IN THE US AND IN THE UK ON AUGUST 17