Albus Dumbledore has a secret — but only in China.
As the United States gears up for the highly anticipated theatrical release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore on April 15, American audiences should expect to see a different side of Dumbledore than Harry Potter fans have seen in China.
According to reports, references to Dumbledore’s past gay relationship have been censored and edited out of the film’s April 8 release in China, at the behest of the Chinese government.
The Chinese release of the film removed six seconds from the final cut, which included two lines of dialogue referencing a past romantic relationship between the two male leads: Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen).
As noted in Variety, the cut lines of dialogue were spoken by Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, in which he said, “because I was in love with you” and “the summer Gellert and I fell in love,” referencing their relationship. While the rest of the film remained intact, it’s implied the two characters share an intimate bond — just not a romantic one.
“A six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. accepted those changes to comply with local requirements but the spirit of the film remains intact,” Warner Bros. said in a statement to Variety. “We want audiences everywhere in the world to see and enjoy this film, and it’s important to us that Chinese audiences have the opportunity to experience it as well, even with these minor edits.”
“As a studio, we’re committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release, and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors,” the statement added. “Our hope is to release our features worldwide as released by their creators but historically we have faced small edits made in local markets.”
Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment but did not hear back immediately.
Despite the six-second edit, Secrets of Dumbledore was a box office success in China during its opening weekend, earning nearly $10 million over its first three days.
The Secrets of Dumbledore is the third installment to the Fantastic Beasts series, and the 11th overall in the Wizarding World franchise, centered in the Harry Potter universe. Set several years after the events of its predecessor, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), the film sees Dumbledore on a mission into the heart of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald’s army.
Of course, Harry Potter fans have been well aware of Dumbledore’s sexuality for nearly 15 years. And while it was hinted at in the first two Fantastic Beasts films, it’s only in the latest film that it’s officially acknowledged onscreen.
In 2007, following the publication of the final book in the Harry Potter franchise, Deathly Hallows, author J.K. Rowling confirmed that Dumbledore was gay and that he and Grindelwald, his childhood friend who later turned to the dark side, indeed had a romantic affair when they were young.
"Dumbledore is gay, actually," she replied to a young fan at the time. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."
In fact, while reading the script for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the sixth in the franchise), Rowling claimed she recalled reading a line Dumbledore says to Harry: “I knew a girl once, whose hair—.”
"I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter — 'Dumbledore's gay!'" she recalled at the time.
This isn't the first time Chinese censors have impacted big budget Hollywood releases. In 2019, China famously edited out all references to Freddie Mercury's sexuality in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
While homosexuality has been legal in China for more than two decades, in 2016, the China Television Drama Production Industry Association and the China Alliance of Radio, Film and Television introduced guidelines banning “abnormal sexual relationships and sexual behavior."
The Chinese censor ban also includes incest, sexual assault, extramarital affairs, “witchcraft practices and feudal superstition," and “grotesque criminal cases."