The Chinese Had One Note on Spider-Man

Tony Vinciquerra and Tom Rothman
Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
May 1, 2022

Here’s a crazy anecdote: Back at the end of 2021, Sony Pictures was stressing over whether Chinese regulators would allow Spider-Man: No Way Home into the country. The previous two Tom Holland Spideys, produced by Marvel Studios, had grossed $116 million and $200 million in China, respectively. So getting the film in, despite all the recent rejections of big-budget U.S. tentpoles, was a top priority for Sony’s leaders, Tony Vinciquerra and Tom Rothman.  

According to multiple sources, when the authorities got back to Sony, they had a request: Delete the Statue of Liberty from the ending of the film. Yes, seriously. As anyone who’s seen No Way Home knows, the entire climactic action sequence takes place with a trio of Spider-Men swinging over and around Lady Liberty as they battle the supervillains. Plus, without getting too into MCU plot points, the Statue plays a larger role in the Marvel movies. It was an outrageous ask.  

But… as is familiar to anyone who has debated censoring films for China, cuts often equal money. And Rothman loves money—this is a guy who projected a giant $3.3 billion figure, representing Sony’s recent box office gross, behind him during his Cinemacon presentation this week. Still, to Rothman’s credit, Sony immediately said no. (The studio declined to comment.)