Algeria pulls ‘Barbie’ from theaters almost 1 month after local release
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “Barbie” is the summer’s biggest movie, but fans in Algeria won’t be able to join in on the fun.
“Barbie” was pulled from theaters in Algeria this week, almost one month after its release in the northern African country.
Online news outlet 24H Algerie reported Monday that Algeria’s Ministry of Culture and Arts told cinemas in Algiers, Oran, and Constantine to “immediately” pull the film.
Neither the ministry nor the Algerian Audiovisual Regulatory Authority commented on the reported ban or provided a reason for it. An Algerian official on Tuesday told Reuters that the hit movie was pulled from theaters because it “promotes homosexuality and other Western deviances” and goes against the country’s cultural and religious beliefs.
Some movie fans in Algeria protested the film’s cancellation on social media using the hashtag #IAmBarbie, according to the Associated Press, while others described the move as “censorship” and “bigotry.”
Fatima Ait Kaci, a retired teacher, told AP that she promised to take her two granddaughters, who were visiting from Canada, to see the movie. She says she only heard what happened to “Barbie” when they arrived at the movie theater in Algiers and discovered another film playing in that time slot.
It’s not the first time “Barbie” has been given the boot. Officials in Kuwait and Lebanon moved to ban “Barbie” ahead of its release in the Middle East on the grounds that it threatened “conservative values.”
Countries banning movies for a variety of reasons isn’t new. In the United States, the practice of banning movies dates goes almost as far back as movies themselves.
In 1915, D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of the Nation” was banned in several American cities for its racist content and positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan. A few years later, the flick “Babe Come Home” was banned in the Chicago area because it showed baseball legend Babe Ruth chewing tobacco, and five states refused to show the original “Scarface” in 1932 because it “glorified crime.”
More than 70 years later, “The Last Temptation of Christ” was banned for six weeks in Savannah, Georgia, after city leaders sent a petition to Universal Studios requesting a ban.
More recently, “Hillary: The Movie” was temporarily banned in 2008. The Federal Electronic Commission said it was an “electioneering communication” in violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). That ban, and much of the BCRA, were later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Despite the bans, “Barbie” is a smash hit worldwide. Since it debuted worldwide on July 21, 2023, the live-action movie based on the American fashion dolls has raked in more than $1 billion.