The Lebanese authorities have banned Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman from showing in the country’s theaters reportedly because the lead actress, Gal Gadot, is an Israeli who served two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Although the Lebanese authorities gave no official reason for the ban, the Associated Press noted that Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and that pressure to ban Wonder Woman came after the group Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon cited Gal Gadot’s Israeli citizenship and her service in the IDF. The group also highlighted Gadot’s past expressions of support for Israel’s policy in the Gaza Strip.
Lebanon is currently at war with Israel. Israel and Lebanon have fought wars in the past in which hundreds of Lebanese civilians died. The last war between the two countries in 2006 devastated the country’s infrastructure.
The decision to ban Wonder Woman is apparently in accordance with Lebanon’s law which boycotts Israeli products and services and forbids its citizens from traveling to Israel. The decades-old law prevents citizens of Lebanon from having economic, social, cultural, and political contact with Israel and Israelis.
The group Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon pushed for the ban on Wonder Woman, describing the film as “the Israeli solider film.” This was done to highlight how featuring Wonder Woman in Lebanon’s theaters conflicts with the existing national law.
Gadot, 32, who played the Amazonian princess Diana — also known as Wonder Woman — in the new film is from Tel Aviv. She was crowned Miss Israel when she was 18-years-old. She joined the IDF just after high school and served as a combat trainer for two years, according to the Guardian. Gadot focused public attention on her previous service in the IDF through an Instagram post in 2014, after she was named for the role of Wonder Woman in Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
Gadot posted a photo of herself and her daughter to Instagram and talked about her service in the IDF. She sent her “love and prayers” to young Israelis serving in the country’s military and fighting against Hamas.
She was also critical of Hamas.
“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children… We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom!”
The Lebanese Ministry of Economy announced its decision to ban Wonder Woman from showing in Lebanon’s movie theaters only a few hours before the film was scheduled to open on Friday in just about 15 theaters across the country. The screening had passed through the country’s routine authorization process before the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon mounted a last-minute effort on Facebook to stop the film by labeling it as “the Israeli Soldier film.”
The ban by the Lebanese authorities was first confirmed on Twitter by the Beirut-based Grand Cinemas on Wednesday. The company was due to feature Wonder Woman in theaters across the country. The news that the film had been banned was also confirmed by multiple independent sources, according to Deadline.
Although the decision to ban Wonder Woman was in line with Lebanon’s law which bans Israeli products and services and all cultural, economic and social contact with Israel and Israelis, it appeared to be in conflict with the fact that previous movies featuring Gadot, such as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the Fast and Furious movies in which she featured, were not banned. The Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon had tried unsuccessfully to block screenings of Batman v. Superman and the Fast and Furious movies in which Gal Gadot featured.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice reportedly earned $843,000 in Lebanon, while Fast and Furious 5, 6, and 7 earned $520,000, $788,000 and $1.8 million respectively.
Analysts noted that the ban was also inconsistent with the fact that the country has screened several movies featuring other Israeli actors, such as Natalie Portman. Analysts also criticized the late decision to ban the movie. The ban was announced only hours before it was scheduled to open in theaters across the country. This caused heavy financial losses to the company that had secured the distribution rights for the movie.
Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, was directed by Patty Jenkins. The film has received rave reviews worldwide and scored 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It is not expected that the ban in Lebanon will make a significant impact on international box office gross earnings because the movie was scheduled to screen in only 15 theaters in the country, according to USA Today.
Analysts estimated that Wonder Woman would rake in more than $100 million in the opening weekend in the U.S. alone and about $175 million worldwide. But despite the ban in Lebanon, Wonder Woman is set to open in June in theaters in several other Middle Eastern countries, including UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman and Bahrain.
[Featured Image by Warner Bros.]