Sony meddled with the PIXELS script to appease Chinese censors

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Pixels is easily one of the best movies of the year. Which is something that I’d say while more drool than usual spilled out of my mouth had I been involved with a head-on collision with a truck carrying a whole load of Jack Daniels: Liver Suicide Edition.

Pixels is in fact, one of the worst movies of the year, an Adam Sandler vehicle that has flooded its engine and stalled completely. In a pile of manure. On top of crap mountain. The film is genuinely that bad, as Kervyn still explained in a review that wasn’t exactly positive.

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Part of the blame may lie at Sony’s feet. With China a massive market these days which can make or break films internationally, the studio decided to ditch any unfavourable references and scenes to China, such as preserving the Great Wall of China from destruction in the flick. An honour that Washington, Indian and other monuments did not escape when the alien menace arrived.

The ancient anti-Mongol horde fence was however spared, according to emails from the infamous Sony hack (via Reuters UK). In an e-mail from December of 2013, Li Chow, chief representative of Sony Pictures in China, wrote:

“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 Chinese government happens to be particularly touchy when it comes to portraying their nation on the big screen as anything but overwhelmingly awesome, with Sony considering creating a China-yay version at one point for that market. But Sony Pictures Releasing International president Steve O’Dell recommended a few simple edits instead:

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“Changing the China elements to another country should be a relatively easy fix. There is only downside to leaving the film as it is. Recommendation is to change all versions as if we only change the China version, we set ourselves up for the press to call us out for this when bloggers invariably compare the versions and realize we changed the China setting just to pacify that market.”

China is where the big international money is at these days, so keeping that population happy means big bucks for any film. Other changes to Pixels included removing a reference that they were responsible for the attacks and a reference to  “Communist conspiracy brother” hacking an e-mail server.

It’s not exactly surprising that Sony would make these changes, in order to keep China happy, as keeping a film in a state that guarantees maximum box office profits is completely different to releasing a film that is actually decent.

Last Updated: July 27, 2015

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