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Spider-Man Across The Spider-Verse Is Banned In Saudia Arabia; Here’s Why

Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse, the highly-acclaimed international animated film, has been pulled from the Middle East release schedule, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and several other Middle Eastern countries.

The sequel to the 2018 film, Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse was scheduled to debut on 22 June across the region ahead of the Eid Al Adha holiday. Official word comes after days of speculation on social media and Reddit when multiple parties contacted local exhibitors, Vox Cinemas, the leading theatre company in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and were informed the film wouldn’t be released.

Although the cause of the ban remains unclear, many speculate that it is due to a pro-trans flag briefly appearing in the movie. Fans are also suggesting that the character known as Gwen is transgender. In a certain scene, a trans flag with the message “Protect Trans Kids” can be seen hanging on the wall of Gwen’s room, revealing Gwen’s adolescent experiences in her own universe.

In 2021, it was widely reported that censorship had ended in the UAE, cited by AP News, with a quote from a government agency saying, “Movies will be screened according to their international version.” However, that was not the case. Local and international content must adhere to certain guidelines according to local customs and values, especially when it comes to films intended for children, which animated films always classified as.

It wasn’t the first time a movie was banned in Middle East, including Marvel’s Eternals, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, West Side Story, Lightyear, and Thor: Love and Thunder, all of which were either banned from release or did not release due to a breakdown in negotiations between Disney and the regulatory agencies.

On a side note, check out our Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse review if you haven’t seen it yet, or find out which cameos took us by surprise.

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