The horror movie Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey has been a curiosity ever since it was first announced that the A.A. Milne character was going to be adapted that way after entering the public domain. While the general consensus is that Blood and Honey isn’t very good, it’s at least understandable why some people might want to give it a look, just to see what the talk is about, but fans in China won’t have that chance as the movie has been pulled after initially getting the go-ahead.
China keeps tight control on what foreign movies get released in the nation, but Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey was set to open on 30 screens in Hong Kong this week. THR reports that now the movie has disappeared from schedules. Moviematic, an organization that had planned a pre-release screening for Tuesday night announced it had been canceled for technical reasons.
Blood and Honey had already been subjected to significant edits to remove most of the gore from the film, but those cuts had apparently been enough to give the movie the approval it needed to screen, making the last-minute pulling of the film all the more surprising. This has led some to suspect that the ultimate reason the movie is now gone has to do with a long-standing unofficial “ban” on Winnie the Pooh in China.
It may sound wild to hear that Winnie the Pooh is a controversial character but in China that is very much the case. Bloggers and others in China that have been protesting against the government there have used the character as a symbol of protest, by drawing a physical comparison between Pooh and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Ever since then, there has been something of a crackdown on depictions of the character. It’s been suggested that this is the reason that Disney’s Christopher Robin didn’t get a Chinese release in 2018.
What makes the Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey situation a bit unique is that, if the movie getting pulled is related to the government’s feelings about the bear, this is the first time we’ve seen such a move in Hong Kong. While technically part of China, Hong Kong has its own government and so has been able to act on its own in most cases. However, China has been passing new laws in recent years to restrict dissent in Hong Kong, and this may be an example of those laws taking hold.
Whatever the ultimate reason, it sounds like fans in Hong Kong who wanted to see Winnie the Pooh and Piglet murder some people are going to be out of luck. That may honestly be a good thing since the movie apparently doesn’t have much going for it beyond its bonkers premise.