Hong Kong cancels screening of Batman film shot in the city

The notice did not give a reason, saying only that the movie Iron Man would be shown instead and refunds were available. PHOTO: THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY/FACEBOOK

HONG KONG, Oct 21 (Bloomberg): Hong Kong officials canceled the screening of a Batman film one year after passage of a law that lets them ban movies on national security grounds.

The showing of the 2008 movie The Dark Knight set for Oct 27 at an outdoor venue was called off "based on direction from the HK Government Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration,” according to a notice that organizers sent to ticket holders on Thursday.

The notice didn’t give a reason for the move, saying only that the movie Iron Man would be shown instead and refunds were available. The office named in the message did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hong Kong has been cracking down on free speech following large and sometimes violent anti-government protests in 2019. Changes to the Film Censorship Bill in 2021 allowed for fines of as much as HK$1,000,000 ($130,000) and up three years in prison for anyone who screens non-approved content.

The law allows inspectors without a warrant to search a premises showing a film to see if it runs contrary to the interests of a national security law that Beijing imposed on the city.

In August, Hong Kong censors banned an award-winning animation that included a one-second scene depicting protests in 2014. The filmmakers behind Losing Sight of a Longed Place said it was pulled from a movie event after they refused to submit an edited version, without specifying what changes censors wanted.

Warner Bros. chose not to show The Dark Knight on the mainland when it was initially released, Variety reported in 2008. The studio cited "a number of pre-release conditions that are being attached” and "cultural sensitivities to some elements of the film.” The film did appear on Hong Kong’s screens.

The superhero movie featured scenes filmed in the former British colony, including one of Batman on a skyscraper at night. One element of the story that may have angered censors involves a corrupt Chinese businessman. - Bloomberg

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