Warning: Spoilers for Alien: Covenant are in play. If you haven't seen the film yet, feel free to come back once you're current.
International releases can lead to some extremely interesting edits to a film looking to do business in foreign markets. Sometimes a whole film can even be banned from opening in a country for one reason or another. The latest film to feel the sting of international scissors is Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant. While the film thankfully wasn't banned from being released in China, it did have a big moment removed from its contents: David and Walter's provocative kiss.
The moment occurs during the third act of Alien: Covenant, where Michael Fassbender's dual characters share a kiss, which is initiated by David towards his robot brother as a sign of love. It's a brief moment of seduction and meant to turn the Covenant crew-member towards the side of the Prometheus survivor, but it doesn't work and a big robotic fist fight ensues. While it's not exactly a huge moment plot-wise, and it doesn't take up much screen time, it's an interesting decision that highlights an inconsistent past with the censors in China.
Even as early as this year, the Chinese censors let a same-sex plotline in a major motion picture fly without any alteration. That moment, as highlighted by The Hollywood Reporter, was the whole subplot involving LeFou in Disney's Beauty and The Beast. Considering the moment was the cause of the film's controversial banning in Russia and even an Alabama drive-in, it's interesting that the more overly homosexual moments in that film would pass muster, and yet a smaller contextual moment would be seen as offending.
Going off that logic, one has to think that Beauty and the Beast may have been given a little more leniency due to the fact that it's not only a Disney movie, but it plays the homosexual moments overtly, without only a dance between two men as its most explicit moment. Alien: Covenant, on the other hand, lingers with the kiss playing out in full frame. Were the scene a quicker cut, or even somehow obscured on camera, it may have still played. But even with the cut, the alteration to the film doesn't seem to be terribly impacting.
Overall, there were only six minutes cut from Alien: Covenant in its Chinese release. In addition to the kiss that was deleted, there were some moments of violence that were removed. So while the intent of the film wasn't interfered with, it does leave a bit of a gap in the third act happenings between David and Walter. If anything, the most this cut would affect is the film's ending, which already seems like it was edited to a point where one or two scenes highlighting the passage of time may have been cut for the domestic release.
It'll be interesting to see what, if any, scenes are cut from this year's upcoming international releases. For now, Alien: Covenant is in theaters domestically for your unedited amusement.