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Django Unchained back on in China

Quentin Tarantino's violent slave-revenge movie Django Unchained returned to Chinese theatres on Sunday about a month after it was pulled on opening day for unspecified "technical reasons".

The rare suspension order on April 11 by the movie's importer, China Film Group Corp., led to speculation that the Hollywood film had run afoul of Chinese censors despite weeks of promotion.

Django Unchained reportedly already had some violent scenes cut and had been cleared by China's rigorous censors, who generally remove violence, sex and politically edgy content.

"The new version is one minute shorter than the previous one," said a manager at a UME Cineplex cinema in Beijing. The manager, who gave only his surname, Wang, speculated that a nude scene might have been cut.

Django Unchained, which won two Oscars, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a plantation owner and Jamie Foxx as a freed slave who trains to become a bounty hunter and demands his wife's freedom before the US Civil War.

China has become the second-biggest movie market behind the US with sales of 2.7 billion US dollars last year, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

While Hollywood is eager for a slice of this market, directors are having to accept the altering of their movies if they show China in a bad light, or to make them suitable for all ages in the absence of a classification system in China.

Earlier this year, some Chinese moviegoers were left confused because of awkward cuts to the James Bond feature Skyfall that included unflattering references to the sex trade in the Chinese territory of Macau. Then, "Cloud Atlas" was shown in Chinese cinemas minus 38 minutes that included gay and straight love scenes.

China is even getting American studios to sanction alternative versions of films specially tailored for Chinese audiences, such as Iron Man 3. The Chinese version features local heartthrob Fan Bingbing - absent from the version showing abroad - and lengthy clips of Chinese scenery.

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