At least two Chinese streaming platforms have taken down 19 films starring Keanu Reeves, after the actor appeared in a Tibet-related concert organized by a non-profit affiliated with the Dalai Lama. Tencent Video and iQiyi have taken down major films in the Matrix and John Wick franchises, among others, the Los Angeles Times was the first to report.
It is unclear when the removals happened, but Reeves first drew attention to this back in January, when his participation in the benefit concert for Tibet was reported. Social media users in China had called for a boycott of his films as retaliation for his perceived show of support for the Tibetan cause. China, of course, does not recognize Tibet as an independent nation, while the territory’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has spent nearly his entire life fighting for forms of autonomy. He has been living in exile in India for decades.
A search for “Keanu Reeves” reportedly throws zero results on Chinese search engines, implying that a greater erasure has been implemented. “Sorry, no results related to ‘Keanu Reeves’ were found,” the LA Times quoted iQiyi as stating, adding: “Due to relevant laws, regulations and policies, some results are not shown.”
Deleted films include the Matrix trilogy, Speed, the John Wick movies, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, as well as Something’s Gotta Give and The Lake House. Interestingly, Pixar’s Toy Story 4, in which Reeves voices a supporting character, appears to have survived (at least on some platforms). Although certain changes have been made to the film. According to the Times, the film’s credits unfold entirely in English, except the voice cast section, which is listed in Chinese, and avoids any mention of Reeves’ name.
Reeves is the latest in a growing list of Hollywood celebrities who’ve run afoul of Chinese authorities because of their support for Tibet—others include Richard Gere, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt (for some time), and Martin Scorsese (also temporarily).
Reeves had long fostered a healthy relationship with China; his latest film, The Matrix Resurrections, became the first Hollywood tentpole to be released in the Middle Kingdom after a two-month drought. It’s another thing that the film failed to leave any sort of mark at the Chinese box office, even as it becomes rarer for Hollywood productions to pass strict censorship guidelines and secure release dates there. Additionally, his directorial debut—2013’s Man of Tai Chi—was a U.S-China co-production. He even has Chinese ancestry on his father’s side. It remains to be seen how this will affect his future in the country, but his willingness to sacrifice it speaks volumes.