By putting an openly gay character on screen, could 'Eternals&&/##39eternal Move the Needle in the Middle East?
When "Eternals," the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring gay superheroes, rolls out on Thursday in America, the Disney-distributed blockbuster will skip the release of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, mainly because of its LGBTQ+ content.
The star-studded superhero pic is going to still screen in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Ethiopia, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. This is a real breakthrough for the region: based on the same-sex kiss that was made between John Tyree Henry and his husband, Haaz Sleiman, and the two men who are married with kilos in an urban strip of the Middle East, it will still be screened in movie theaters.
The only way to make more than one version of Eternals acceptable across the Arab world is, according to sources.
Even though the Eternals cut that will play in parts of the Middle East, all the scenes of intimacy both heterosexual and homosexual - have been cut, which is standard for these markets. But it remains clear that Phastos and Ben have a child together.
The director of the Nomadland told IndieWire that she asked for not to alter any scenes to appease censors. This is an aspect of Eternals, which director Chloe Zhao said was already an integral part of Marvel Studios conception of these characters when she started discussing the movie with the studio. The Responsor director told The Independent Business Journal that it isn't a problem that is now understood by many individuals.
Sleiman, who was raised in a Muslim family in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. where he came out as gay in 2017, has praised Disney for taking stern measures against Middle East censorship. They stood their ground and said, Nope, we wont compromise the integrity of our film, Slieman told Variety last week. They are so ignorant and pathetic that these Arab countries seem to be so tolerant of it.
Interestingly, the censorship board in the UAE is believed to be open-minded, and asked only a very small cut.
Moreover, while the LGBTQ+ issue was common in the Middle East where Eternals wont be released, censors in Kuwait and Qatar also requested additional edits owing only to the problem they had with Arishem, the Prime Celestial in a film, because in Islam, depicta of gods and prophets is generally considered blasphemous.
As an exhibitor, the company Vox Cinemas, which is playing "Eternals" in the UAE, Lebanon and Egypt, didn't comment on the cuts, beyond a terse statement stating that as if we follow regulatory guidelines, we should follow market by market, the prominent Middle East multix chain has acted as eternal role and disease in syria, Egypt and the Arab Emirates, and has played Ezerals, did not
The issue of film censorship in the region because of a variety of reasons, including depictions of violence, immortality and overall intimacy not just same sex - is not specific to Eternals. Other films that have been banned in Middle East for religious reasons include the 2014 retelling of the story of Moses, Exodus and Noah of Aronofsky.
In the UAE and across the Middle East, in 2019 the first same-sex kiss ever in a Star Wars movie, between Commander DAcy (Amanda Lawrence), whose minor role is in the minor, and another woman in that Resistance in The Rise of Skywalker was cut out in 2019.
In addition to the movie titled "Cruella" which was banned in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman in 2020, no release certificate was granted in Qatar earlier this year because the local censorship board identified the character as LGBTQ+ and wanted him removed from the film, which instead played in other Middle East territories.
It's a sensitive issue because of the sensitive nature of this issue. Several industry experts and academics in the region declined to comment on this article.
A prominent filmmaker and television producer of Egyptian cinema and TV, Mohamed Hefzy said: Every country has the right to decide what content it considers culturally appropriate.
He added that, besides that the film is playing without too many cuts, I'm glad Eternals is screening in Egypt. Egypt isn't one of the countries that's stopping the screening of this film, but it also said, I'll gladly be glad that it''d be a success, adding that he was also happy that there is no way to stop the production of ten films without so many cut-outs.
As to whether Eternals will move the needle, Hefzy said: Its hard to speculate whether itll be a trend thatd continue in terms of more openness to gay themes or if it is merely purely based on the one-off.