DUBAI, June 15 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates will not screen Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Vox Cinemas said on Thursday without explanation, amid online and regional fan chatter about the movie. The way animated films handle transgender themes opens up debate.
The film, the sequel to 2018’s Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, opened in the U.S. on June 2 and is set to open in the Bay Area on June 22.
However, Vox, a subsidiary of retail group Majid Al Futtaim, said in response to a Facebook Messenger query that the film would not be released in the UAE. Majid Al Futaim did not respond to a request for comment.
Major cinema chains in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain unlisted Movie In the “Coming Soon” section of their website, Vox, Novo, and Reel movie theaters are included.
The movie sparked debate online about whether the character Gwen Stacy is transgender, with a scene in the trailer showing a sign in the background that read “Protect Trans Kids”.
Reuters could not determine whether that was why the film was taken down.
The UAE Media Council tweeted on Monday that “the dissemination or publication of content that violates the values and principles of the UAE and the country’s prevailing media content standards is not permitted.” The council provided no further details, nor did it mention anything specific.
In the socially conservative Middle East, any deviation from traditional sexual norms is considered taboo and a criminal offense in many countries.
“I agree with the directive not to show the film. We don’t want to show the next generation that this is a normal thing. It’s not normal, our religion tells us there are only men and women,” Abdullah Al-Oufi said. ), a Saudi told Reuters in Riyadh.
“I think the decision to stop the film is a sovereign decision and we have the right to express our opinion,” said Sami Solem, a young Saudi living in Riyadh, adding that films should respect the values of audiences.
Vox, which operates in the Bay Area, said in a Facebook post Sunday that tickets are now available ahead of release. Thursday’s tickets, however, do not appear to be available for purchase on the Gulf State’s Vox website.
Several theater customer service lines did not say why the film was not released, and government agencies in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Kuwait’s Ministry of Information said it had not yet received the film for consideration.
June 2022 UAE prohibit Walt Disney-Pixar’s animated feature “Light Years” was screened for its role in a same-sex relationship. The Ministry of Youth and Culture said it “violated national media content standards”.
Reporting by Yousef Saba and Lisa Barrington in Dubai, Andrew Mills in Doha, Nafisa Eltahir in Cairo and Mohammed Benmansour in Riyadh Editing by William Maclean
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