Vietnam has taken a firm stance against the Warner Bros. film “Barbie“, banning commercial screenings of the summer blockbuster.
The movie, which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was due to be released in the country on July 21. However, authorities say that due to its depiction of the nine–dash line — a representation of China‘s territorial claims in the South China Sea — the film violates Vietnam‘s sovereignty.
The National Film Evaluation Council took the bold decision in response to the contentious territorial issue. 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 a considered decision by the National Film Evaluation Council.”
The nine–dash line has caused controversy with Vietnam‘s neighbors for years and is vehemently disputed by many countries. In 2016, a United Nations disputes resolution tribunal in The Hague ruled unanimously against the validity of the ‘nine dash line‘.
However, there are no clear mechanisms for implementation and China has said it does not recognize the decision.
Similar depictions of the “nine dash line” have previously caused problems for multiple films and TV series in Vietnam. DreamWorks‘ animated film “Abominable” was banned for this reason in 2019 and Sony’s “Unchartered” suffered the same fate last year. Netflix was also ordered to remove the Australian spy drama “Pine Gap” from the Vietnamese market.
The ban is the latest in a series of sanctions against entertainment media that has seen multiple films and TV shows pulled due to their flare–ups on territory issues. It‘s a stark reminder of the importance of getting country regulations correct before a movie is released into a new market.
The Warner Bros. film is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer and the ban has left moviegoers highly disappointed. But as Vietnam‘s sovereignty comes first, it looks like viewers will have to wait just a little while longer for Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling‘s latest silver–screen adventures.