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‘Eternals,’ Marvel Film With Gay Superhero, Not Playing in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait

The film features a same-sex couple that may be the cause of the apparent ban

Marvel’s “Eternals” is unlikely to open in the Middle Eastern countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, TheWrap has learned, though the exact reasons the film has been pulled remain unclear.

One of the Middle East’s largest exhibitors Vox Cinemas shows that “Eternals” is still listed as a “Coming Soon” title in regions like the United Arab Emirates but is quietly absent from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. Representatives for Vox Cinema did not immediately return a request for comment.

While it’s unclear whether the film was specifically banned or for what reason, THR reported Thursday that local censors in the region requested edits to the film that Disney declined to make. “Eternals” includes a same-sex couple, and previous Disney films such as Pixar’s “Onward” have also faced similar bans over LGBTQ content in Russia when it opened back in 2020. However, some Middle Eastern countries have been known to not play films for a variety of reasons including intimacy, violence or sexuality, among other reasons.

Brian Tyree-Henry plays the character Phaston in “Eternals” who shares an on-screen kiss with his husband and also lives in the suburbs of Chicago with a son.

“Eternals” was meant to open in the region on November 11. It did however open on Wednesday in a few select international markets before it opens domestically on Friday. Thus far it’s brought in $7.6 million globally to date and is 20% ahead of “Black Widow” and 85% of the international gross for “Shang-Chi” in the same early window.

“Eternals” is directed by “Nomadland” filmmaker and Best Director Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, and the film tells the story of celestial beings who for all of humanity’s existence on Earth have been tasked with protecting the fate of the planet from alien monsters called Deviants.

The film introduces a deep cast of characters and protagonists, none of whom have appeared in previous Marvel films and who are more obscure in terms of Marvel comic lore. They’re played by a cast that includes Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan and Ma Dong-seok.

THR first reported the news.