TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A customized "Dune" poster for the China market has generated controversy after it removed a Black actress seen in other versions and replaced her with a Taiwanese actor.
On Oct. 24, the Twitter account for The China Africa Project pointed out that the poster had excised British actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster, who plays Liet-Kynes. Her exclusion is notable because she is the only actor who has been removed from the American poster and not seen in the Chinese version.
In the tweet, which was later inexplicably scrubbed, The China Africa Project compared Duncan-Brewster's exclusion to the shrinking of Black actor John Boyega in the Chinese poster for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." A screenshot of the archived tweet can be seen below.
In the original U.S. poster for "Dune," Duncan-Brewster's head appeared just to the lower right of Jason Momoa, who plays Duncan Idaho. In the controversial Chinese version, Duncan-Brewster has been removed and below Momoa appears an image of Taiwanese actor Chang Chen (張震), who portrays Dr. Wellington Yueh.
One other notable addition to the China poster not seen in the U.S. version is Dave Bautista, who plays Glossu Rabban. It is not currently known whether the decision to remove Duncan-Brewster was made by Warner Bros. or Legendary East, the distributor of the film in China.
U.S. poster for "Dune." (Warner Bros. image)
Based on Hollywood's previous pandering, many are speculating that Duncan-Brewster, whose parents are from Trinidad and Tobago, was taken out because of the color of her skin. Meanwhile, Chang appears to have been included to appeal to Chinese audiences.
Chang's role as Dr. Wellington Yueh has led to speculation of further pandering to Chinese audiences, as his character converses in fluent Mandarin with Timothee Chalamet, who stars as the protagonist Paul Atreides. However, Chang explained to CNA Lifestyle that the idea of him speaking Mandarin to Chalamet came from Denis Villeneuve, who reasoned that the lead character can speak many languages and that Yueh "represented someone from Asia."
"Dune" poster for China market. (Douban image)
It should be noted that the U.S. version of the poster including Duncan-Brewster has been seen in China as well. Nevertheless, the modified version did not go unnoticed in China, with users of the social media platform Douban roundly panning it for its composition:
"Ultimate pile of heads."
"I just threw up."
"I can also make this poster."
"They added Chang Chen."
"Why did Chang Chen hide half his face?"
"The previous official posters were pretty good until this epic disaster."
Below is a comparison of the U.S. and China posters for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" showing Boyega greatly diminished in size in the Chinese version.