Hollywood film Django Unchained has been pulled from Chinese cinemas on its opening day, despite weeks of promotion for director Quentin Tarantino's violent slave-revenge saga.
Movie theatres throughout China have been ordered to suspend the film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx.
Employees at two Beijing cinemas said an order issued by the importer, China Film Group Corporation, cited an unspecified technical problem with the film.
Django Unchained filmmakers reportedly cut some violent scenes to pass China's rigorous censorship that generally targets violence, sex and politically edgy content. With such an exacting system, suspension on a film's premiere date is unusual.
Tian Zaixing, general manager of the Beichen Fortune Centre cinema in the southern city of Kunming, said he could not recall any other imported film being halted on the opening day. The order from China Film Group came in a phone call at around 10am local time today, he said.
The cited technical reason might only be a ruse, said Tian, though he was unable to provide an alternative explanation.
He dismissed speculation that a nude scene was the offending culprit.
A source from the official promotional team of the film said there had been no prior warning about the suspension, and the film's midnight premiere was unaffected.