Chinese authorities asked Sony to delete the Statue of Liberty from the climactic sequence of Spider-Man: No Way Home before distributing the movie in China, Puck reported on Sunday citing multiple sources.
The climactic sequence of the movie features an action sequence of over 20 minutes in which characters battle amid scaffolding around the Statue of Liberty.
When Sony refused to delete the statue from the movie, Chinese authorities asked if the company could diminish the statue’s presence. Sony considered the request, the sources told Puck, but ultimately decided against editing the movie and did not release it in China. It’s unclear whether Chinese censors blocked the movie’s release or if Sony preemptively opted against releasing it.
The third Spider-Man installment with actor Tom Holland in the lead role grossed close $1.9 billion worldwide even without a release in China, the sixth-highest movie release ever according to Box Office Mojo. The first Spider-Man with Holland drew in $116 million in China when it was released, and the second installment drew $200 million.
The news that Sony apparently declined to release the newest Spider-Man in China comes after years in which Hollywood studios have acceded to various requests by Chinese censors in order to distribute movies in that country. Most recently, Warner Brothers removed dialogue referencing a gay relationship in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in the version released in China.
“In the case of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,’ a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. accepted those changes to comply with local requirements but the spirit of the film remains intact,” the studio told The Hollywood Reporter in April.
Disney has seen multiple controversies over its dealings in China, including when the credits of its 2020 live-action remake of Mulan thanked Chinese government entities in Xinjiang, where China is accused of imprisoning Muslims en masse.
Actor and wrestling star John Cena apologized to Chinese fans in May 2021 for referring to Taiwan as an independent country. Cena initially said “Taiwan is the first country that can watch” F9, or Fast and Furious 9, in an interview on Taiwanese TV, but subsequently apologized to Chinese fans in a video message on Weibo.