The third installment in the "Hunger Games" movie franchise -- "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1" -- is opening Friday in U.S. movie theaters and other countries around the world.
But fans of the dystopian young adult series in at least two big Asian markets won't be able to join in the party just yet. In China, the film's release has been delayed indefinitely, postponed perhaps till January 2015. The reasons for the move are unclear, though the Hollywood Reporter suspects that China's film authorities may be keen on "balancing domestic and foreign box totals before the end of the year," and that delaying the American blockbuster's release would give domestic movies "a clearer playing field."
Others suggest that the film's overtly political narrative may have fallen afoul of Chinese censors. It's set in an invented world where a highly centralized, authoritarian state holds sway over deeply impoverished and oppressed hinterlands. The parallels with Beijing's rule over its far-flung provinces, while perhaps not totally obvious, can be glimpsed by viewers.
In Thailand, though, the film is definitely a political thorn in the side of the current government, which came to power on the back of a military coup earlier this year. According to the Associated Press, at least one major Bangkok cineplex has canceled all screenings of the film, which was supposed to open in the country on Thursday, for the weekend. Anti-coup protesters had booked 100 tickets for an opening day show at the theater.
"The theater told us they were uncomfortable and wanted to avoid any problems that may arise. They said they did not want to be involved in any politics," a protest organizer told the AP. "The police contacted them and pressured them not to let us hold the event."
In northeastern Thailand on Wednesday, five Thai students were arrested and interrogated after they protested an event with the country's prime minister (and leading coup-maker), Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha.
The students flashed the three-fingered salute that's part of the "Hunger Games" series: in the movies (and the books upon which they are based). The salute is a gesture of defiance, solidarity and admiration for those facing up to the power of the quasi-fascist state. In Thailand, the salute can now get you arrested.
— Manik Sethisuwan (@ManikSethisuwan) June 1, 2014
In June, as WorldViews documented, anti-coup protesters began invoking the gesture, adding that the three fingers stood for "liberty, equality, fraternity" -- as in the French Revolution.
But the Thai military wasn't so impressed. "If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it so it doesn’t cause any disorder in the country," said a military spokesman at the time.