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Lebanon has banned Steven Spielberg’s newspaper drama The Post just days before the film is set to premiere in Beirut.
A source involved with The Post‘s international rollout says the movie, which stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, was presented to the Lebanese censorship board, which nixed it, citing a “boycott Israel” list that includes Spielberg due to his Oscar-winning Holocaust film Schindler’s List (the 1993 film shot some scenes in Jerusalem).
The matter has been transferred to Lebanon’s Minister of Interior and Municipalities, who could overturn the decision.
Unlike Gal Gadot, whose film Wonder Woman was banned in Lebanon in May, Spielberg is not an Israeli citizen, nor has he ever fought with the Israeli Army. Lebanon is officially at war with Israel.
Italia Film was poised to release The Post in Lebanon on Jan. 18. A spokesperson for Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment says he cannot comment because the company has not been told officially by the Lebanese distributor that the pic will not be released there because of censorship.
The source says the move came as a shock, given that over the past three years, at least five films either directed or produced by Spielberg were accepted and approved by the censorship board and it is only now that it is invoking Spielberg’s inclusion on the “boycott Israel” list. Both The BFG and Bridge of Spies — which mark Spielberg’s two most recent helming efforts before The Post — were released in Lebanon.
The 1970s-set film, which chronicles Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Streep) and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) quest to publish the Pentagon Papers, is critical of the U.S. government.
In the case of Wonder Woman, the Lebanese government took issue with the fact that the film’s star, Gadot, served in the military (as is required of all Israeli citizens).
The Post has been doing brisk business in the U.S. in limited release. Since Fox released it on Dec. 22, the $50 million film from Amblin and Participant Media has earned $4.2 million. This weekend, The Post expanded nationwide into 2,819 theaters, where it grossed an estimated $18.6 million for the three days as it looks to a four-day gross of $22.2 million.
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