EXCLUSIVE: A24’s fantasy hit Everything Everywhere All At Once has been banned in parts of the Middle East, we understand.
We hear from industry sources that the movie was picked up by a regional distributor but has been banned in parts of the Gulf due to LGBTQ issues, meaning it has been shelved for now. In the film, Stephanie Hsu’s character Joy is openly gay and there is a scene in which Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis play a lesbian couple.
We’re told there’s hope that some territories in the region may still release the film, but the word is that key markets such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait won’t be showing it. We have reached out to A24 and Saudi Arabia’s General Commission for Audiovisual Media for comment.
Homosexuality is illegal across the Gulf and films that feature any LGBTQ themes often don’t get past the censors.
Last month, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness was the latest studio film to be banned in parts of the region due to a gay character. Eternals and West Side Story also suffered bans late last year.
The UAE announced six months ago that it would do away with film censorship and instead introduce a 21+ rating. Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is playing in the country but has been banned in Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The latter is hosting the World Cup later this year.
Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan star in Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s critical darling Everything Everywhere All At Once, which has simmered its way to a healthy domestic box office of $37M and counting.
The fantasy mind-bender follows an ageing Chinese immigrant swept up in a wild adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. The genre-busting dramedy has been hailed by a number of critics for its themes of queer acceptance and identity.
One key territory that the film has struggled to find a distributor in is the UK. The UK has long been a challenging and expensive market in which to release independent movies and we hear the asking price was considered too steep by the small pool of viable indie distributors in the territory. The film is one of A24’s biggest-budget productions to date. The good news for UK cinema-goers is that A24 itself will release the film this month. The distributor is lining up a 100+ screen rollout from May 13th.