Sony altered a scene in its newly released film Pixels in order to avoid running afoul of censors in China, now the second-largest film market after the United States.
Reuters reports, citing emails leaked by Sony hackers, that a scene in the original Pixels script featuring aliens shooting a hole in the Great Wall of China was scrapped because it would “not benefit the China release at all,” according to a Sony executive.
Other changes included removing a mention of China as the potential perpetrator of an attack during the movie and a reference to a cyberattack by a “Communist-conspiracy brother.”
Emails sent in 2013 also showed that a Sony executive wanted to alter the plot of the studio’s action film RoboCop by locating a weapon company in the movie in Southeast Asia rather than China. That change didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.
Movie censorship guidelines in China ban content that disparages the government, endangers national unity or harms public morale. Studios in the past have been known to change their movies specifically to appeal to Chinese audiences. Marvel, for instance, lengthened a scene in Iron Man 3 featuring a Chinese doctor specifically for the Chinese release.
In a statement to Reuters, Sony said that creating content that has wide global appeal but doesn’t compromise creative integrity is a top priority as it develops films.