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."
The woman, who only gave her surname, Yang, said she would pass on questions to her supervisor, which weren't answered.
The spokesman for the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said he had noticed the online reaction to the broadcast. "I've not heard of any ban on this movie," Wu Baoan said Thursday.
The film is available on video-on-demand platforms in China, where movie content also needs to be approved by authorities.
A political scientist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who used to work for CCTV said the film might have approval, or it could have been CCTV's own decision to broadcast it.
"Every media outlet knows there is a ceiling above their head," said Liu Shanying. "Sometimes we will work under the ceiling and avoid touching it. But sometimes we have a few brave ones who want to reach that ceiling and even express their discontent over the censor system.