China bans 'Winnie the Pooh' film over comparisons to President Xi Jinping

Winnie the Poo is not welcome in China

SUPPLIED Winnie the Poo is not welcome in China

The live-action film premiered worldwide over the weekend except in China, where authorities did not provide a reason why the Disney movie was banned.

Though the reason may seem plausible, another source told the Hollywood Reporter that the film's denied release in China doesn't have to do with Xi's hatred of Winnie the Pooh.

The Winnie-the-Pooh and Xi memes are thought to have started from a 2013 photo of Xi and then-US President Barack Obama, which emerged alongside a picture of Pooh and the tall, slim, fun-loving tiger character Tigger.

Cathleen Taff, head of distribution for Disney, confirmed the film has been denied a release the Associated Press reported The move locks the release out from the world's second largest film market.

Although "Christopher Robin" won't be shown to the country of 1.3 billion people, it made a solid debut in the U.S. last Friday, grossing US$24.6 million (£19 million) in ticket sales.

Other memes of Xi Jinping as Pooh have also appeared online - and one of the leader on a motorcade alongside an image of a Winnie the Pooh in a toy auto was deemed China's most censored photo by political analysis company Global Risk Insights.

Last summer, government censors blocked all images of Winnie from the site. As comparisons grew, censors began erasing the images which mocked Xi.

"If they don't let it into China, the joke is going to become huge", said another commenter.

In Christopher Robin, the eponymous hero, now an adult, reunites with boyhood friend Winnie the Pooh and others including Eeyore the donkey and Piglet.

The film will be released in Germany on August 16. Instead of restricting the audience age, the country opted to ban the film altogether because of nudity, violence and graphic language.

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