'Barbie' movie producer speaks out on ban

Scores of fans around the world have long been waiting for the film's release — however, it might not be shown in some countries

By Reuters

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Reuters file
Reuters file

Published: Fri 7 Jul 2023, 1:24 PM

Last updated: Fri 7 Jul 2023, 1:57 PM

Warner Bros studio has released a statement explaining its stand on the controversy that sparked a ban on its 'Barbie' movie in certain countries.

Vietnam has already said it wouldn't grant licence for the movie's release, while the Philippines is currently deliberating on whether or not they would allow the film to be shown on the big screen.

The two Asian countries balked at a scene showing a map that features China’s “nine-dash line" — which extends Beijing’s territorial claims far into waters that fall within areas claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, and other countries.

Warner Bros believed the map with the controversial nine-dash line was harmless.

“The map in Barbie Land is a whimsical, child-like crayon drawing," the studio said in a statement. "The doodles depict Barbie's make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the real world. It was not intended to make any type of statement."

'Barbie' was originally slated to open in Vietnam on July 21, the same date as in the US, according to state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Vietnamese authorities objected to a scene showing a map that includes the so-called nine-dash line, the newspaper said. The U-shaped line is used on Chinese maps to illustrate China's claims over vast areas of the South China Sea, including swaths of what Vietnam considers its continental shelf, where it has awarded oil concessions.

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

Will it be banned in the Philippines?

A number of Philippine government officials, including senators, are calling for the movie's ban also because of the map.

A UN-backed international court ruled in 2016 that the “nine-dash line” has no basis in law and the Philippines was entitled to an exclusive economic zone in part of the area claimed by Beijing. However, China rejected the ruling. The matter has remained a sensitive issue for the Philippines and China.

The country's decision on the 'Barbie' movie ban is yet to be released.

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