DC’s Wonder Woman has proven to be a global smash hit at the box office, as director Patty Jenkins’ film has earned over $100 million in the United States in its first five days and $125 million internationally. Select nations will not be able to view the film, however, for reasons that extend beyond entertainment and the film industry.
Amidst pressure from Palestinian groups over Gal Gadots Isreali descent, the film was banned from theaters in Lebanon and Algeria, and now another country has now been added to that list, as Tunisia has suspended all plans to screen the film.
According to Variety, the news comes just hours before preview screenings of the superhero flick were set to begin in the country. The suspension comes following a lawsuit that was filed on Monday against the film by the Tunisian Association of Young Lawyers. The courts have not outright banned the film from the country but will suspend any further screening attempts until the lawsuit is settled.
The conflict is once again based around Gadot’s nationality, as the plaintiff has gone on record to label the headlining star as a “champion Zionist”. The group cites her time in the Israeli army (a required civic duty in Isreal) as a combat instructor, plus her praise for Israeli tactics in the 2014 Israeli-Gaza Conflict (also known as “Operation Protective Edge”). Beyond that, when she was 18 years old, Gadot was named “Miss Israel” and competed in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant.
Wonder Woman was set to play in 3D with subtitles for over 230 audience members on Wednesday night. The film would have been accessible to Tunisian audiences in at least two theaters, but those efforts are on hold for now.
Wonder Woman was suspended in Lebanon on May 31, blocked once again by the Tunisian Assn. of Young Lawyers. The film was set to open in Algiers on Sunday during the second edition of film festival Nuits de Cinema, organized to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. It was said that the film was pulled from the festival because of “administrative issues linked to exhibition rights,” which makes it unclear whether Gadot’s descent had an effect on the decision.
The conflict between Israeli-Palestinian interests is an incredibly touchy subject, a complicated issue that has been raging on for decades, and censorship in entertainment has been a big part of the conflict. Tunisia underwent a non-violent revolution in 201o to protest for freedom of speech rights, leading to a movement across that section of the world known as the Arab Spring, but the conditions of their diplomatic situation and their location in the world makes this a complex situation.
Gadot has had other films that she has helped headlined receive a release in Tunisia, including Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Other films, such as Fast Five and Fast and Furious 6, did not receive a release there, but it is unclear whether her descent played a role or if it was merely a studio release decision. It has yet to be seen whether Justice League will receive a release in these countries. Areas such as Egypt, Morocco, and the Arab Emirates are still planning on releasing Wonder Woman at the time of this publication.
Wonder Woman is in theaters now in over 4,000 theaters across the United States.