Game of Thrones, which entered its eighth and final season in the US on Sunday night (Monday morning in the UAE) is truly a global phenomenon, with fans from Antarctica to Zimbabwe eagerly awaiting the unfolding of the show’s concluding series.
In China, however, it seems there was 10 per cent less of it to like last night.
The show has captivated audiences in the People’s Republic just like everywhere else in the world. Chinese Premier of the State Council, Li Keqiang, reportedly name-dropped the show at the start of a summit recently in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where parts of the hit drama were filmed.
When Chinese streamer Tencent played the season premier simultaneously with HBO on Sunday night, however, fans were disappointed to find six minutes of the episode’s 54-minute run time were missing, with the show clocking in at just 48 minutes.
The fantasy epic is notorious for its explicit content and bloody battle scenes, both of which are known to have attracted the ire of China’s censors in the past, but Chinese fans on social media were not happy with the latest cuts.
“Tencent is making us pay to see a castrated version of Game of Thrones,” said one Twitter user.
“It is a bit uncomfortable watching the censored version,” tweeted another user with the handle Wang Bubble. “If those scenes are not worth seeing, why would the writer write them? Why would the director shoot them? I don’t want to miss even one second.”
A blogger on the Chinese movie review website Douban suggested viewers should file a "group lawsuit" against Tencent for the cuts, while others made their anger known on Chinese social media site Weibo.
It is currently unclear whether the censorship was carried out by official censor boards, Tencent prior to airing, or pre-emptively by HBO itself.