A new report claims that Chinese censors wanted to remove the Statue of Liberty from the ending of Spider-Man: No Way Home, but Sony refused.
This new report comes from Matthew Belloni at Puck, who claims the Chinese “had a request: Delete the Statue of Liberty from the ending of the film” in order for the film to be approved to play in China.
The report goes on to claim that Sony executive Tom Rothman refused.
With Rothman refusing to remove the Statue of Liberty outright, the Chinese censors asked if Sony would minimize it and the scenes it was part of.
Belloni explains, “Then they asked if the Statue could simply be minimized in the sequence: if Sony could cut a few of the more patriotic shots of Holland standing atop the crown, or dull the lighting so that Lady Liberty’s visage wasn’t so front-and-center.”
Sony reportedly thought about this, but decided not to based on a number of factors including the fact that even if they did decide to minimize the scenes featuring the Statue of Liberty it didn’t guarantee that the film would be released in China.
Belloni also details that Rothman and fellow Sony executive Tony Vinciquerra also factored in rising anti-China sentiment in the United States.
He also claims the Chinese market isn’t as lucrative as before, but doesn’t provide any proof to that claim. The Batman, which did release in China only grossed $23 million in the country.
However, 4 of the top 10 grossing films of 2022 worldwide are Chinese films. In fact 2 of the top three are Chinese films. Zhǎng Jīn Hú Zhī Shuǐ Mén Qiáo grossed $614 million in China and Ji Su Shi Ke grossed $397 million in China.
Both of those films are just behind the global gross of The Batman, which has earned $764.3 million worldwide.
On top of the Chinese box offices still bringing in substantial grosses for homemade Chinese films, a lot of Hollywood produced films are not even getting released in China.
One of the last major films to release in China aside from The Batman and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was F9: The Fast Saga. That film grossed a whopping $215.3 million in China. It released just a little over a year ago.
Nevertheless, Belloni also claims that numerous studios will begin bucking the trend of appeasing Chinese censors due to these factors. Time will tell if that is true.
A direct counter example to that claim is Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which removed a number of lines of dialogue referencing the fact that Dumbledore is a homosexual, in order to get the film released in China.
Warner Bros. released a statement defending their decision to acquiesce to the Chinese censors. It began, “As a studio, we’re committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors.”
It continued, “Our hope is to release our features worldwide as released by their creators but historically we have faced small edits made in local markets.”
“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 statement said.
It concluded, “We want audiences everywhere in the world to see and enjoy this film, and it’s important to us that Chinese audiences have the opportunity to experience it as well, even with these minor edits.”
The film grossed $20.6 million in China, a significant drop from the previous film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which had previously grossed $57.3 million in China. That’s a 64% decline.
However, that percentage decrease in China aligns with the decrease at the global box office overall. Grindelwald grossed $651.2 million worldwide while Dumbledore only brought in $331.8. That’s an almost 50% decline.
So that leads one to believe that the decrease in the Chinese grosses might not have to do with Chinese audiences being less lucrative, but a subpar product.
What do you make of this report? Do you believe the claim that Hollywood studios will be less inclined to cater to Chinese censors?