The highly anticipated sequel, 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,' has hit a roadblock in its journey to the big screens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Reports confirm that the film, which follows in the footsteps of its Oscar-winning predecessor from 2018, failed to comply with local censorship regulations, resulting in its banishment from theaters across the territory.
Initially scheduled for release on June 22, just in time for the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday, the film's fate now hangs in the balance. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, with a screenplay by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Dave Callaham, 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' seemed poised for success, given the popularity of its predecessor.
However, one frame featuring a subtle pro-trans message on a background poster has triggered the ire of UAE's stringent censorship laws. A reliable source familiar with the situation disclosed this tidbit, shedding light on the reason behind the ban.
While the region has witnessed some relaxation in censorship regulations in recent years, strict guidelines remain that all international and local content must adhere to, ensuring they align with the region's customs and values.
This scrutiny becomes particularly rigorous for films aimed at younger audiences, a category to which most animated features belong.
Film Bans in Middle East and Gulf
Unfortunately, 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' is not the first film to face the axe in the Middle East and Gulf countries.
Earlier examples include 'Onward' and 'Lightyear,' both encountering bans in several nations. 'Lightyear' even suffered the additional blow of being prohibited on Disney+, the popular streaming platform launched in the region in June 2022.
Notably, 'Thor: Love and Thunder,' 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,' 'West Side Story,' and 'Eternals' have all encountered similar fates. The latter film, 'Eternals,' compelled Disney to make significant changes, removing all public displays of affection between characters to appease local censors.
On the other hand, Disney did not comply with the requested edits for 'Strange Worlds' and refrained from releasing the film in various markets, including the Middle East, Malaysia, Indonesia, and more. Despite its ban in the UAE, 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' has received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike, boasting an impressive 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the United States, the film has already amassed over $120 million at the box office in early June, surpassing the domestic earnings of its Oscar-winning predecessor within just ten days. Moreover, it has raked in a remarkable $164.5 million from international markets, resulting in nearly $390 million worldwide.
As fans eagerly await updates on the fate of the film in the UAE, its global success stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the web-slinging superhero and the imaginative world of the Spider-Verse.