Yes, movies still get banned by cities, countries, and movie theater chains. And it’s usually for a very particular reason.
Gone with the Wind
Gone With the Wind is one of the most acclaimed movies of all time, and, adjusted for inflation, it’s still the highest-grossing movie of all time. It is, however, a little dated, particularly with its depictions of race relations. It takes place before and during the Civil War, and heroine Scarlett O’Hara employs the use of slaves, portrayed by Butterfly McQueen and Hattie McDaniel. McDaniel even won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but nevertheless The Orpheum, a movie theater in Memphis, decided to cancel a planned 2018 screening of the film. It received several complaints after an August 2017 showing that the movie’s sympathetic portrayal of the slavery era was insensitive to modern audiences.
Wonder Woman delighted and inspired millions of people across the world this year and made a superstar out of star Gal Gadot. But she’s precisely why nobody living in Lebanon will see the movie anytime soon. Lebanon and Israel are officially at war and engage in the occasional deadly skirmish. Acting under a law that bans contact between Lebanese residents and Israeli residents, the country banned the movie because Gadot was born in Israel.
Beasts of No Nation
With its watch-now platform and production of original content, Netflix has thoroughly shaken up the film industry in the last few years. A little too much for the film industry’s liking. In 2015, Netflix produced Beasts of No Nation, a harrowing drama about an African child soldier. Idris Elba earned an Academy Award nomination for his role as the terrifying Commandant. Netflix planned to screen the movie at theaters nationwide, and then its online service, but America’s four biggest theater chains (AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike) refused to screen it. Why? Because Netflix didn’t respect the traditional “90-day window” between a theatrical release and home video availability designed to give movie theaters a chance to earn as much money as possible on a film.