Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been blocked from release in the United Arab Emirates after failing to pass local censorship laws, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The sequel to the 2018 Oscar-winning animated hit — which had a successful run in theaters in the region — was scheduled to debut on June 22 across the territory ahead of the upcoming Eid Al Adha holiday. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson from a script by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Dave Callaham, the film has apparently fallen foul of the country’s censorship laws due in part to the blink-and-you-miss-it protect trans lives poster featured in the background of one frame, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Regulators in the region have loosened censorship laws in recent years but there are still strict guidelines that international and local content must adhere to “local customs and values.” This is particularly the case with films geared towards children, which most animated features are classified as.

A number of live-action and animated films have been banned in the Middle East and Gulf countries in recent years. Onward and Lightyear were both banned in several countries, with the latter also being banned on Disney+, which launched in the region in June 2022. Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, West Side Story and Eternals also faced bans. In the case of Eternals, Disney agreed to make concessions to local censors, editing out all public displays of affection between the characters. With the more recent Strange Worlds, Disney opted instead to not make requested edits and did not release the film in several markets, including countries in the Middle East, as well as Malaysia and Indonesia, among others.

The film has gotten rave reviews from both critics and audiences and currently has a 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. In the U.S., Across the Spider-Verse scored more than $120 million in early June at the box office, and has already surpassed the 10-Day domestic earnings of its Oscar-winning predecessor. Overseas, it has garnered $164.5 million for a nearly $390 million worldwide total.


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