BEIRUT — Lebanon fans of the long-awaited Barbie film, which is scheduled to be released on July 21 in American theaters, will have to wait another six weeks after the film's release date was postponed, in line with a delay across the Gulf countries.
The delay has been met with disappointment and confusion from fans in Lebanon, with some speculating that the film might have been banned.
Carly Ramia, head of marketing at Selim Ramia & Co Sal (Grand Cinemas), explained to L'Orient Today that the release date of the Barbie film has been postponed in Lebanon at the instruction of Vox Cinemas Dubai, the distributers of the Warner Bros film in Lebanon.
"The decision came from outside," Ramia noted. "It has been postponed across the Gulf countries," adding that the movie "will not be banned."
According to Abu Dhabi-based daily The National, Vox Cinemas changed Barbie film's release date earlier this month on their website after promoting the film's release date as July 20 on Twitter four days prior. The National added that "no reason has been given for the delay."
"I bet the delay in releasing Barbie in Lebanon until Aug. 31 is because the censors here are waiting on either UAE or Saudi to answer the riddle: Does it have any queerness?" Twitter user @LSadeye said.
For her part, Ramia explained that delaying film release dates "has happened in this region before," indicating that this is to give other "big films," such as Christopher McQuarrie’s Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning — Part One, starring Tom Cruise, and Christopher Nolan’s thriller Oppenheimer, which were released in the same duration, extra time in theaters.
An employee with Italia Film, a film distribution firm in Lebanon, said that the Barbie film's distributor is Dubai-based Vox Cinemas, adding that they have informed them the film's release date has been postponed "without any justifications but this is usually how the process goes."
A spokesperson for General Security, which authorizes or censors films and plays before they can be shown publicly in Lebanon, was not immediately available for comment.
Movies in Lebanon have been banned before over controversial issues.
In June, the country banned Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse over a transgender pride flag, which briefly appears in the background in one scene.
Last year, Lebanon joined at least 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries in its decision to ban Walt Disney’s new Pixar movie Lightyear over a same-sex kiss.