Beijing-based rights activist Hu Jia wrote on Twitter, which is not accessible to most Chinese because of government Internet controls: “This great film couldn’t be any more appropriate for our current situation. Dictators, prisons, secret police, media control, riots, getting rid of ‘heretics’ … fear, evasion, challenging lies, overcoming fear, resistance, overthrowing tyranny … China’s dictators and its citizens also have this relationship.”

China’s authoritarian government strictly controls print media, television and radio. Censors also monitor social media sites including Weibo. Programs have to be approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, but people with knowledge of the industry say CCTV, the only company with a nationwide broadcast license, is entitled to make its own censorship decisions when showing a foreign movie.

“It is already broadcast. It is no big deal,” said a woman who answered the phone at movie channel CCTV-6. “We also didn’t anticipate such a big reaction.”