The new Adam Sandler feature film “Pixels” received some tweaks from Sony Pictures to remove politically sensitive plot points and ensure the movie didn’t offend China, Reuters reports, citing internal Sony emails.
Most notably, a scene in which aliens blast a hole in the Great Wall was removed. The change was one of several made to increase the likelihood that the movie would receive distribution in China, which has become the second-largest film market after the U.S.
The movie’s script in 2013 included the attack on the Great Wall, but that scene is reportedly gone from the version of the movie that made it to theaters in the U.S. this week.
“The aliens strike iconic sites elsewhere, smashing the Taj Mahal in India, the Washington Monument and parts of Manhattan,” Reuters reports. “Sony executives spared the Great Wall because they were anxious to get the movie approved for release in China, a review of internal Sony Pictures emails shows. It is just one of a series of changes aimed at stripping the movie of content that, Sony managers feared, Chinese authorities might have construed as casting their country in a negative light.”
A scene was also pulled in which China was mentioned as possibly being behind an attack, the report notes, as was a mention of a “Communist-conspiracy brother” hacking a mail server.
The report quotes a December 2013 email to senior Sony execs from Li Chow, chief representative of Sony Pictures in China, in which Li writes: “Even though breaking a hole on the Great Wall may not be a problem as long as it is part of a worldwide phenomenon, it is actually unnecessary because it will not benefit the China release at all. I would then, recommend not to do it.”
The email is one of tens of thousands that were released publicly as part of a widely reported hacking of Sony late last year.