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‘Wonder Woman’ Banned in Lebanon Due to Israeli Lead Gal Gadot

Variety logo Variety 5/31/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – Lebanon officially banned “Wonder Woman” on Wednesday roughly two hours before the film was scheduled to screen in the country’s movie theaters.

The ban was prompted by a group called Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel – Lebanon, which pressured the government in Beirut to block the movie because lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli. Lebanon is officially at war with Israel.

The “Wonder Woman” ban was announced on the official Twitter feed of Lebanon’s Grand Cinemas and confirmed by several other sources.

The ban, which was decided by a six-member committee of the Ministry of Economy, comes after the film had gone through Lebanon’s ordinary censorship procedures. The decision is somewhat surprising because the same anti-Israeli organization had been unsuccessful in persuading the Lebanese government to pull “Batman v. Superman,” in which Gadot also stars.

“Wonder Woman’s” Lebanese premiere was scheduled for Wednesday following a successful sneak preview Tuesday evening.

There was no immediate comment from Vox Cinemas, a regional exhibitor that was set to release the film in Lebanon, or from Joseph Chakra & Sons, the licensee for Warner Bros. titles in Lebanon.

Lebanon, which has been officially at war with Israel for decades, has a law that encourages boycotts of Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from traveling to Israel or having contacts with Israelis.

On its Facebook page, the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel – Lebanon said that Gadot was a soldier in the Israeli army and had praised Israel’s military actions during the 2014 war in Gaza.

However, many other films starring Gadot, including “Fast & Furious 6” and “Furious 7,” “Triple 9,” and “Knight & Day,” played in Lebanon and were box-office hits there.

The Lebanese ban is not expected to impact the release of “Wonder Woman” elsewhere in the Arab world, according to Cairo-based film analyst Alaa Karkouti.

“Wonder Woman” is scheduled to go on release in the Gulf on June 1, and in Egypt in late June after June 24, which is the end of Ramadan. In Egypt foreign movies rarely play during Ramadan.

“The ban is really out of order because it’s not about content,” commented Karkouti.

“It’s not an Israeli actress in a film about Israel or about a sensitive political issue,” he noted. “If this is Lebanon’s policy, then Lebanon should also stop participating in international film festivals where Israeli films are shown,” Karkouti added.

There was an outpour of similar reaction to the “Wonder Woman” ban within Lebanon.

“Can you also ban Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Viber, Starbucks, all smartphones and laptops?” Tweeted popular blogger Elie Fares.

“Resist what? A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli,” Fares noted in his blog.

Censorship has been getting tighter in Lebanon recently. Earlier this year Egyptian director Magdi Ahmed Ali’s “The Preacher” (“Mawlana”), a critique of corruption and fundamentalism, was banned and subsequently allowed to be shown after cuts were made.

In 2013 the Lebanese government heeded to a call by the Arab League to ban Lebanese-born filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack,” because it was shot in Israel.

Related video: What you need to know about Gal Gadot (via People)

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