Here’s why ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ is blocked from release in UAE | Hollywood

In a surprising turn of events, the highly anticipated sequel to the Oscar-winning animated film, ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ titled ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ has hit a roadblock in its release plans for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The movie, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, and featuring a script by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Dave Callaham, failed to pass local censorship laws, according to sources familiar with the situation.

'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,' has hit a roadblock in its release plans for the United Arab Emirates.
‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ has hit a roadblock in its release plans for the United Arab Emirates.

Scheduled to debut on June 22, just in time for the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday, the film’s release has been thwarted due to its failure to comply with the country’s strict censorship guidelines. One of the reasons cited for the ban is a blink-and-you-miss-it poster in the background of one frame, highlighting the importance of protecting trans lives. It seems this brief depiction clashed with the “local customs and values” that content in the region must adhere to, especially when targeted at younger audiences, as most animated films are.

While censorship regulations have eased in the Middle East in recent years, there are still limitations on international and local content. This has resulted in several films, both live-action and animated, being banned in the region. Movies such as ‘Onward’ and ‘Lightyear’ faced bans in multiple countries, with the latter also being excluded from Disney+ in the region. Even highly anticipated titles like ‘Thor: Love and Thunder,’ ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ ‘West Side Story,’ and ‘Eternals’ have encountered censorship challenges.

In the case of ‘Eternals,’ Disney made edits to comply with local demands, removing all public displays of affection between characters. However, for ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ Disney chose not to make the requested changes and opted not to release the film in several markets, including the Middle East, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Despite these setbacks, ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ has received critical acclaim and enthusiastic responses from audiences. The film currently boasts an impressive 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. In the United States, it has already surpassed the domestic box office earnings of its predecessor, grossing over $120 million in early June. On the international front, the film has generated $164.5 million, contributing to a worldwide total of nearly $390 million.

Also read | PS5 fan spins a web of creativity with spectacular Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse inspired DualSense controller

While fans in the UAE may be disappointed by the news, the global success and widespread acclaim of ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ highlight the enduring popularity and appeal of the friendly neighborhood superhero.

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