Sony Pictures has reportedly rejected the Chinese government’s demand to remove scenes of the Statue of Liberty from Spider Man: No Way Home.
The dispute took place in late 2021, as Sony executives were desperate to secure a Chinese release date for the Tom Holland blockbuster, according to a report from Puck on Sunday.
While the Statue of Liberty plays a major role in the film’s climax, Chinese censors insisted it be digitally removed, multiple sources told the outlet.
When Sony declined the request, the Chinese government then asked if the icon of American freedom could be “minimized” by taking key shots and darkening the lighting to obscure the statue, which the studio declined to do.
Spider-man can be seen on the Statue of Liberty in the climax of Spider-Man: No Way Home. Chinese censors wanted the image to be digitally scraped from the film
Third Tom Holland Spider Man movie failed to release in China after Sony refused to bow to country’s censorship
No Way Home, which grossed $805 million at the box office in North America, never received a Chinese release date, effectively banning it from theaters there, but the reason was never made clear.
The film, the Netherlands’ third as the web-slinging superhero, was produced in a collaboration between Disney-owned Marvel Studios and Sony-owned Columbia Pictures. Sony handled the distribution of the film.
A Sony spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question from DailyMail.com on Tuesday.
Marvel Studios has not had a movie in Chinese theaters since Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019. That film grossed $200 million in China.
Last week, China officially banned the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
While no formal reason was given for the ban, the film had infuriated the Chinese Communist Party by including a short take from a newspaper rack for the Epoch Times, which is highly critical of the party.
Although the newsstand is only visible for a split second in a trailer for the film, Chinese internet users dissected the images frame by frame and expressed their anger at the inclusion of the newspaper.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping can be seen above. Chinese censorship has gotten tougher in editing western movies and movies
Doctor Strange also features a lesbian character, which refers to having “two mothers,” which led to the film’s ban from Saudi Arabia.
The recent crackdown marks a shift in China, where Marvel movies had huge success prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officially, the Communist Party only allows 34 foreign films per theatrical release per year — but a crackdown in 2021 made it harder than ever to secure Chinese releases for major US blockbusters.
Less than a third of the foreign films shown in China last year were genuine new titles for 2021. Most were older, and a tenth of those were archival titles predating 2010, according to Variety.
Meanwhile, the Chinese censor has become more and more tough on editing western movies and movies.
Earlier this year, Chinese streaming platforms censored a storyline in the iconic TV series ‘Friends’, which is hugely popular there.
The streamers removed references to Ross’ ex-wife Carol Willick, who divorced him after announcing she was a lesbian.
Earlier this year, Chinese streaming platforms censored a storyline in the iconic TV series ‘Friends’ and cut scenes from the reunion special ‘Friends’ (above)
Justin Bieber has been banned from performing in China since 2017. Officials there call the singer “badly behaved”
The Chinese streaming platforms that recently bought “Friends” include Tencent, Bilibili, Youku, Sohu, and iQiyi; they started streaming the show from February 11.
In 2016, China issued an eight-page set of guidelines for television programming, discouraging gay storylines and topics that “exaggerate the darker sides of society.”
The document also referred to “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content” in which homosexuality, underage love, extramarital affairs and one-night stands were off limits.
Chinese viewers were also outraged in 2021 after three of their country’s streaming services censored the highly anticipated Friends reunion.
Services iQIYI, Youku and Tencent Video have all acquired streaming rights to the blockbuster TV special, which was released worldwide on May 27, 2021.
While fans in other markets were treated to the full 104 minute show, the editions released in China were all significantly shorter, reducing guest appearances from Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and South Korean boy band BTS.
Lady Gaga is currently banned from touring China after angering the country’s officials by meeting the Dalai Lama in 2016.
In the closing scenes of the 1999 movie Fight Club, Norton’s character sees multiple buildings explode with Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter)
But in the censored version released in China, the scene with buildings exploding has been replaced with a written message on a black screen: ‘The police quickly got through the whole plan and arrested all the criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding’
Meanwhile, Justin Bieber has been banned from China since 2017. He angered Chinese leaders by posting a photo of himself at a shrine honoring Japanese military leaders, and problems in his personal life led China to describe him as “ill-bred.”
BTS also angered Chinese officials when they spoke last year about South Korea’s shared “history of pain” with the United States over the Korean War, in which China supported North Korea.
China also recently censored the movie Fight Club, radically reworking the original ending of the cult classic Fight Club to comply with the country’s restrictive censorship rules.
Instead of multiple buildings exploding like in the original ending, the authorities win in the new censored version.
In an abrupt cut, the censored film ended with a written message on a black screen: “The police quickly got through the whole plan and arrested all the criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from detonating.”