Millions of people have gone out of their way to see Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey for one reason: To see beautiful people have sex on screen. I’ve seen the movie. The plot and the dialogue are not selling tickets. And so far, Fifty Shades has banked a staggering $156 million domestically, and a grand total of $528 million worldwide. Sex sells. So when a sex-free version of the film screened in Vietnam, you can imagine that audience members were beyond pissed.
Censors in Vietnam took the knife to Fifty Shades of Grey before allowing the film to screen in local theaters, the UK Independent reports. All told, 20 minutes of footage was scrubbed from the film, adding up to all of the film’s sex scenes. Anything labeled "potentially sensitive" was removed, and only "a few kisses" remained in the final film. Naturally, ticket buyers are frustrated.
Xuan Thao, who purchased a ticket to the edited version of Fifty Shades, told the news outlet:
It's totally ridiculous. This version is rated 16+, but it doesn't need an age restriction; a five-year-old could watch it. Even the trailer was sexier. They'd have been better banning it altogether.
In fact, it was the banning of the film in neighboring countries like Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia that prompted Vietnam censors to intervene. But the cuts to the sex scenes were so sloppy and so drastic, that audience members couldn’t help by be enraged. Bien Thuy Nguyen, another patron on opening day, said that crowds were shouting at the screen after each obvious cut. Nguyen said that you couldn’t follow the story because the cuts ensured that the narrative made no sense.
Perhaps most offensive is the fact that the censors completely butcher the conclusion of the film. According to the Independent, the scene of Christian Grey "punishing" Anastasia with his belt was completely cut from the film, so the movie ends when Dakota Johnson’s character decides to leave Jamie Dornan’s dom.
Apparently, this is not unusual. Cat Khue, a film columnist for the country's Tuoi Tre newspaper, says that mandated edits to films screened in Vietnam have become "a normal thing," and that they frequently watch films where the sex and violence has been edited out. But for a film like Fifty Shades, where the titillation comes with the price of the ticket, was it even worth it to screen in Vietnam at all?