Chinese regulators banned the 2021 box office smash “Spider-Man: No Way Home” when the film studio refused to remove the Statue of Liberty from the movie’s final battle.
According to Hollywood industry publication Puck, Chinese censors wanted Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures to completely cut out the 305’ neoclassical sculpture, which was the location of the entire action packed finale, from the film.
The studios rejected the request, as Spider-Man spends 20-plus-minutes in the third act fighting off supervillians on Liberty Island, and the extreme edits would have required both an alternate ending and a complete reshoot.
In a follow-up appeal, the China Film Administration asked that certain scenes they considered too “patriotic” be removed from the third act. A particular point of contention was a shot where Peter Parker stands on top of the Statue of Liberty’s crown.
Censors also demanded that the studios darken Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s design to minimize the location’s visibility, which Japanese owned Sony and American based Marvel Studios ultimately rejected, leading to the film’s ban in China.
The decision reportedly cost between $170 to $340 million in earnings from the country’s box office. Despite China’s rejection, the latest installment of the “Spider-Man” franchise became the sixth-highest grossing film in cinematic history with $1.77 billion in ticket sales.
The Chinese regulators have been tightening restrictions on Western media since updating broadcast guidelines to keep “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content” from public consumption in 2016.
NBC hit “Friends” was recently so over-edited in the sitcom’s re-release on multiple major streaming networks in the country, that #FriendsCensored trended on Chinese social media platforms in February.
Fellow 90’s cult-classic “Fight Club” had its entire final sequence obliterated by Chinese streamer Tencent. Brad Pitt’s character’s successful takedown of the economy’s financial systems was replaced with an authoritarian friendly title card stating that the police thwarted his plan. The final act was eventually restored after intense social media backlash.