The Punjab government has not given the go-ahead to the screening of Hollywood movie Barbie in the province despite issuance of no objection certificate by the Punjab Film Censor Board.
Barbie’s box-office debut began in parts of Asia, including Pakistan, on July 21. The movie was halted in theatres across Punjab for containing ‘objectionable’ content.
A censor board official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that the board had briefly watched the movie and removed the ‘objectionable’ content.
He said the distributors also agreed to remove the ‘objectionable’ material from the film. He said the board had allowed the screening in the province, adding the theatres had also launched advertisements to play the movie but the Punjab government had stopped the screening.
He said the board had nothing to do with the restriction.
The Lahore Cue, Cine Star, Universal Cinemas had shows listed for the movie. One of the cinemas had advertised to play the movie and also sold tickets.
However, the district administration along with police had conducted raids at the theatre and stopped the movie in the middle. The theatre administration had to refund all the tickets.
Punjab Information secretary Ali Nawaz Malik told this reporter that the government had banned the screening in the province. “The Punjab Film Censor Board had given the certificate to screen the movie in theatres but the government had stopped the screening on public complaints,” he said.
To a query about removing the ‘objectionable’ content, he said they had sent a copy of the movie for review in Dubai studio and had not yet received the edited version.
Film Distribution Association Chairman Chaudhry Kamran said the film was stopped for screening in cinemas despite getting NOC from censor boards of the country. He said the film would be allowed after they would receive the edited copy.
He said the film was being screened in different areas of the country and federal government jurisdiction areas.
The fantasy comedy film about the famous doll, directed by Greta Gerwig, stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. It is expected to rake in $100 million from US theatres over the weekend. To mostly positive reviews, it had scored a 90 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 81pc on Meta Critic.
Previously, Vietnam banned the movie from cinemas over scenes with a map showing China’s claims to territory in the South China Sea.
Originally published in Dawn, July 26th, 2023