United Arab Emirates bans Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ from showing
The decision by the UAE comes as Malaysia also reportedly will ban the film, raising the possibility other Muslim-majority nations could follow suit on one of Disney’s biggest animated films of the year as the film industry comes out of the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Emirates, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, announced through its Media Regulatory Office of the country’s Ministry of Youth and Culture that the film would not be opening in the country this Thursday.
The film “is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards,” the office said in a tweet. “The office confirms that all films screened in cinemas across the country are subject to follow-up and evaluation before the date of screening to the public, to ensure the safety of the circulated content according to the appropriate age classification.”
The tweet included an image of the film’s poster, with the profile image of its main character Buzz Lightyear with a “no” symbol over it in red.
Movie theaters in the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, had already advertised showtimes for the film. But over the weekend, a social media campaign with the Arabic hashtag “Ban Showing Lightyear in the Emirates,” caught the attention of conservative Emiratis. They described showing a lesbian couple on screen as being against their culture and religion.
The movie, with actor Chris Evans voicing the inspiration for the Buzz Lightyear action figure from the “Toy Story” films, reportedly includes a character voiced by actress Uzo Aduba kissing another woman with whom she’s in a relationship.
The $200 million “Lightyear” is expected to be a major draw for Disney, with analysts estimating it could gross over $100 million in its first weekend.
Studios have allowed censors to cut films in global distribution for content in the past, including in the Mideast market.