State-owned China Film Group Corporation has confirmed that it has removed all scenes featuring Hong Kong actress Gillian Chung from Chen Kaige's upcoming Mei Lanfang biopic, whose English title has recently been finalised as Forever Enthralled.
The film, about legendary Beijing opera singer Mei Lanfang's private and public lives,is a co-production between China Film Group, CMC Entertainment and Emperor, and is currently in post-production at Tokyo Laboratory Ltd.
Chen decided on the new title to reflect the 'forever lasting image of Mei Lanfang' while also showing that Mei was forever enthralled by Beijing opera, to which he dedicated his whole life.
China Film Group declined to comment on the main reason for deleting Chung's scenes. However, it's understood that it was out of respect for Mei's family because she was involved in an erotic photo scandal earlier this year.
Chung played Fu Zhifang, the wife of Mei Lanfang and mother of his son Mei Baojiu, who serves as artistic director of the film. In 2007, Mei Baojiu represented Mei's family and the Mei Lanfang Opera Troupe in officially endorsing Chen Kaige to shoot the film.
In a statement, Chen Kaige said he was very grateful for Chung's work in the film. 'She has expressed the professional quality of an actor in the film and she worked very hard,' Chen said.
In response, Chung's agent Mani Fok of Hong Kong's Emperor Group said Chung respected the decision of Mei's family. 'She was happy to have participated in the film,' Fok was quoted by Hong Kong media as saying.
The scandal, in which a batch of erotic photos featuring Hong Kong star Edison Chen and a string of female celebrities were widely released on the internet, has affected other films such as Chen-starrer The Sniper which had its Hong Kong release delayed.
Forever Enthralled is scheduled to be released on Dec 12 in mainland China, Dec 19 in Taiwan and Jan 1 in Hong Kong.