Sony cost themselves millions of dollars by deciding to deny China’s demand that the Statue of Liberty be deleted from a climactic action-packed sequence of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Multiple sources say the Chinese Communist Party objected to the over 20 minutes of battle around the scaffolding of the monument and asked that it be erased. Japanese entertainment giant Sony refused, so Chinese authorities attempted to have the statue’s presence in the climax diminished. When that inquiry was also rebuffed, the blockbuster’s distribution in the world’s largest market was canceled.
It is unclear whether Sony or the Chinese censors pulled the plug on distribution. What is crystal clear is the country’s motivation.
Besides being a major global symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty was a major reference for the Chinese creators of the iconic Goddess of Democracy, which stood in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It captured the attention of both China and the world for five days of protest until the CCP’s tanks rolled in and killed hundreds and possibly thousands.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the first entry in the latest superhero trilogy, took in 13.3% of its global earnings, $117 million, in China. The second installment, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” earned nearly $205 million, or 18.25% of its take, in China.
Sony is far from going broke over the decision, as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” grossed a whopping $1.9 billion globally. That is the sixth largest haul of all-time, not adjusted for inflation. Still, the decision to stand up to China’s censors clearly cost the company hundreds of millions in revenue and admirably bucks a trend by Western studios and entertainers alike.
For the sin of referring to Taiwan as a country, actor and wrestler John Cena apologized to Chinese fans — in Mandarin no less. China in January edited the final scene of “Fight Club” to show the government prevailing.
Kudos to Sony for not buckling to Chinese pressure. As long as the nation’s authoritarian regime feels the need to censor images not to its liking, international companies will face similar decisions. Sony made the right call.