Disney’s “Christopher Robin” was denied release in Chinese theaters amid the government’s reported crackdown in banning Winnie the Pooh from the country’s internet due to comparisons of the character to the country's president, Xi Jinping.
The live-action film premiered in theaters worldwide over the weekend except in China, where authorities did not provide a reason why the Disney movie was banned. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Winnie the Pooh might be to blame.
The Chinese government has been actively blocking images of the honey-loving bear for years since Internet users began comparing the fictional character to Xi. Memes started flooding social platforms in 2013, when Xi and former U.S. President Barack Obama were pictured walking together.
People compared Xi to Winnie the Pooh and Obama to Tigger.
The comparison between Xi and the bear continued for years. Winnie the Pooh became a symbol of the Chinese resistance against the ruling Communist Party, prompting authorities to heavily censor the character, the BBC reported.
In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver criticized Xi and mocked his sensitivity when being compared to Winnie the Pooh.
Though the reason may seem plausible, another source told the Hollywood Reporter that the film’s denied release in China doesn’t have to do with Xi’s hatred of Winnie the Pooh.
China has an annual foreign film quota, this year set at 34, that limits the number of movies to be shown in the country. Disney's “A Wrinkle in Time” was also denied release in China.