This $1.1B Johnny Depp Hit Was Banned in China For the Most Bizarre Reason

This $1.1B Johnny Depp Hit Was Banned in China For the Most Bizarre Reason
Image credit: Legion-Media, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Even Captain Jack Sparrow couldn't escape it, savvy?


  • Chinese censorship has a number of rather strange rules, such as prohibiting the depiction of time travel, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures in movies.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was a victim of this censorship – the movie was banned in China due to its depiction of a cannibal tribe and pirate ghosts.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End also suffered from censorship – more than half of the scenes featuring Hong Kong actor Chow Chow Yun-fat were cut due to scenes of violence, according to Chinese censors.

Since April 2011, China has banned the release of movies and TV shows about time travel – the country's authorities explained this strange decision by the need to prevent distortion of history and insult to Chinese culture.

At the time, movies in which characters moved from modern to ancient China were attracting a large audience, and the government feared that such films could change the way Chinese people viewed the past.

Dead Man’s Chest Was Banned Because of the Ghosts

But the film ban in China is not limited to the adventures of time travelers. Official censorship of the country prohibits the screening of any film that touches on cults and superstition.

This $1.1B Johnny Depp Hit Was Banned in China For the Most Bizarre Reason - image 1

The vague wording covers a wide range of films, from horror to adventure, that feature ghosts and other supernatural creatures.

The main victim of this ban was the second Pirates of the Caribbean installment, Dead Man's Chest.

As fans remember, Captain Jack Sparrow is captured by a tribe that practices cannibalism, and then encounters the ghosts (were they even ghosts, though?) of the pirates on the Flying Dutchman.

Dead Man's Chest became the highest-grossing film in the franchise, earning over a billion dollars, so it's even more of a shame that the film was banned in China – it certainly wouldn't have been able to overtake Avatar, which approached almost three billion dollars at the box office, but it could have been even more successful commercially.

At World's End Was Cut Because of Violent Scenes

This $1.1B Johnny Depp Hit Was Banned in China For the Most Bizarre Reason - image 2

But Dead Man's Chest was not the only victim of censorship – the third installment, At World's End, was released in Chinese theatres, but in a shortened version.

The Chinese version cut over half of the sequences featuring Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat's portrayal of Singaporean pirate Sao Feng.

The absence of the pirate reading Guan Shan Yue, a poem by Li Bo, one of the most well-known poets in China, in this version infuriated viewers the most.

At World's End's Chinese distributor, claimed that only violent scenes were removed from the film. However, the actions of the censors affected the development of the plot and made it difficult to understand.