‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ will not be released in Saudi Arabia cinemas

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The latest “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” movie will not be released in theaters in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Cinema, which is managed by the General Commission for Audiovisual Media reported on Tuesday that the highly-anticipated movie will not hit screens in the Kingdom.

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The authority said that the movie “contradicts the content controls in force,” and added that unless parts of the movie’s scenes were amended, it would not play in theaters locally.

“Out of our keenness on the safety of the content shown in cinemas, and our responsibility towards the viewers, we would like to point out that we will not permit or license any film that contradicts the content controls in force in the media system… and its implementing regulations, unless the production companies commit to implementing the required amendments,” the social media statement said.

Many Reddit and Twitter users in the Gulf country speculated that the movie might not be released locally. Meanwhile, tickets for the screening are no longer available to pre-book at local cinemas.

Empire Entertainment, which owns the exclusive theatrical distribution rights for Sony Pictures in the Middle East has been contacted for a comment on the status of the release. On Empire’s website, the show is still marked under ‘Coming Soon’ with a June 22 release date.

Al Arabiya English has also contacted Vox Cinemas for a comment on the movie’s expected release.

In US and Canadian theaters, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” opened with a massive $120.5 million, more than tripling the debut of the 2018 animated original and showing the kind of movie-to-movie box-office growth that would be the envy of even the mightiest of Hollywood franchises, The Associated Press reported on June 4.

Early in 2022, the UAE and other GCC countries banned Walt Disney-Pixar’s animated feature film “Lightyear” from screening in cinemas because it featured characters in a same-sex relationship.

Same-sex relationships are criminalized in many Muslim-majority countries, and films featuring such relationships have in the past been banned by regulators in those countries, while others with profanity or illicit drug use are sometimes censored.

“The Media Regulatory Office announced that the animated film Lightyear, which is scheduled for release on 16th June, is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards,” the UAE authority said in a statement at the time.

Later in the year, many of these countries also demanded streaming giant Netflix censor or remove content that could be perceived as offensive to the religion and culture of the Gulf states.

With Reuters

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