In a stark deviation from the typical international corporate bowing towards China, Sony decided against releasing the latest film of the Spider-Man film collection, Spider-Man: No Way Home in the wake of refusing Chinese requests to remove the Statue of Liberty from the film. The report by Puck through National Review says:
When Sony did not agree to remove it from its film, Chinese authorities asked if they could reduce the statue's prominence. Sony was able to consider the request, sources said to Puck, however, they ultimately decided to not edit the film and didn't launch it in China. It's not clear if Chinese censors prevented the film's release or whether Sony just decided to delay the release of the film.
I'm willing to admit that the one thing I didn't see the featured Spider-Man film and I'll go with the author about the Statue of Liberty playing an important role in the film's finale. In addition, based on the quote above, it's possible that China said “nah” to the film's release in China, not Sony. But, considering that the two previous installments of the current series both generated more than $100 million in China, if a tweak to lessen Lady Libertas appearance without ruining the entire plotline was feasible, Sony most likely would choose that path. $100 million is enough to add some OT in the CGI lab.
It's unclear if Sony did say no because they didn't have the desire to remake a portion of their film or if they were fed up with Chinese restrictions on speech, or both. It isn't clear since Sony hasn't been public about it. It's a fact that there is a strong likelihood that the international company was told by China to bend to their will. The film has earned $1.9B globally, so it's not like it failed without the revenue generated by the Shanghai Bijou.
With the severe Internet restrictions China has imposed on its people, it's highly unlikely many Peter Parker fans there know that there's an upcoming Spider-Man film. Yet, one could imagine a scenario where there's some of the Chinese population that is sufficiently technologically adept to be able to bypass the censors and access the film online, view it, and think about what kind of government is so insecure and petty that it is spooked by a statue that the whole world knows about. From these seeds, hopes of freedom may be cultivated.
It's a good thing for Sony called the Chinese bluff and put principles over profits. However, I would like to see someone from Sony, hoping to spark some excitement, having told those Chinese officials “Sure — give us a few to change statues,” and then brought cameras along to record the Chinese reaction after the dramatic fighting scene unfolded …
… on The Goddess of Democracy.