“Death on the Nile” is set to hit theaters this weekend, but several nations are now boycotting the film at the last minute due to political concerns. The Kenneth Branagh film will not screen in Lebanon or Kuwait, as the countries’ governments have banned the film because of star Gal Gadot’s ties to Israel.
Gadot is an Israeli native, and the actress and model launched her entertainment career by winning the Miss Israel beauty pageant in 2004. The “Wonder Woman” star grew up in the city of Rosh HaAyin and served for two years in the Israel Defense Forces, as all Israeli citizens are mandated to do. As the Israel-Palestine conflict became more controversial in recent years, she remained a loyal defender of her home country, even when such a position was unpopular. That said, she is far from a radical, even tweeting her support for a two state solution in May 2021. “Israel deserves to live as a free and safe nation,” she wrote. “Our neighbors deserve the same.”
Critics of Israel still labeled Gadot’s relatively moderate stance as an attack on Palestinian sovereignty, and have sought to have her movies censored for years. In 2017, “Wonder Woman” was banned in both Lebanon and Qatar. Lebanon censored the superhero film after facing extreme pressure by the Lebanese group Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon. While the origin of Lebanon banning “Death on the Nile” is unknown, many believe Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon is behind it as well.
Sources say that Kuwait’s ban is due to Gadot’s Israeli military service, rather than her statements. The Daily Mail quoted a source within the government as saying that they would not book a movie starring a former Israeli soldier. Neither Lebanon nor Kuwait requested any edits to the film, they are simply refusing to show it due to Gadot’s presence in it.
While Hollywood occasionally has to deal with Middle Eastern countries censoring American films, studios are generally more concerned with Chinese censorship due to the nation’s authoritarian government and massive audiences. However, “Death on the Nile” has had no problems on that front. The mystery film will open in China next weekend, and the majority of Middle Eastern countries will screen the film this weekend at the same time that it opens in the United States.
“Death on the Nile” is set to be released in theaters February 11.