China bans Geisha

Regime fears backlash over Chinese actresses playing Japanese geishas

In one of the strangest events to plague Memoirs Of A Geisha, the Chinese government has cancelled the release of the film amid rumours that the sight of its mostly Chinese thesps playing Japanese geishas would spark some sort of backlash.

The film was apparently cleared for distribution by China’s notoriously hard to please government and had a release date set for 9 February. But the State Administration Of Radio, Film And TV reversed itself over the weekend. The organisation has yet to give an official reason. "We were pleased by their acceptance of the film in November and were disappointed by this decision," Sony Pictures spokesgob Jim Kennedy told the Associated Press.

But the company won’t worry too much – thanks to widespread piracy, low attendance and cheap tickets, a typical Hollywood film released in China makes about $500,000.