‘Barbie’ Banned in Vietnam for ‘Offending’ Map Image

A scene featuring the nine-dash line means Greta Gerwig’s comic fantasy won’t play in Vietnamese theaters

Warner Bros

Warner Bros. Discovery’s “Barbie” has been banned in Vietnam, according to Reuters.

The decision was based on a scene that depicts a map with the “nine-dash line,” a representation of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, which Vietnam says violates its sovereignty.  

“We do not grant license for the American movie ‘Barbie’ to release in Vietnam because it contains the offending image of the nine-dash line,” Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Department of Cinema, a government body in charge of licensing and censoring foreign films. 

Warner Bros. Discovery didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

The Margot Robbie/Ryan Gosling comic fantasy, which is due to open theatrically on July 21, is the latest Hollywood production to be banned in Vietnam. Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg’s “Uncharted” was likewise banned in the territory in early 2022, as was DreamWorks Animation’s “Abominable” in late 2019.  

Vi Kien Thanh, director general of the Vietnam Cinema Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said on Monday that the ban was decided by the National Film Evaluation Council. 

Many of China’s neighbors, including but not limited to Vietnam, have competing and overlapping territorial claims and dispute China’s assertations. The United Nations disputes resolution tribunal in The Hague ruled in 2016 against the validity of the “nine-dash line,” but China has stated that it doesn’t recognize the decision.  

The actual financial consequences of the ban should be slim for Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie. For example, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” earned $4.3 million in Vietnam in late 2021, while “Avatar: The Way of Water” earned $11.6 million, or a tiny fraction of its $2.32 billion global total there in late 2022. “Uncharted” was a hit for Sony without the territory, as the video game adaptation earned $407 million worldwide on a $120 million budget.