he most politically divisive movie in Southeast Asia at the moment is an animated one about the friendship between a teenage girl and a yeti.
Amidst a heartwarming tale of magic and adventure, Abominable features one scene where a map of the region is shown and China’s “nine-dash line” can clearly be seen. China uses the line to claim sovereignty over the vast majority of the South China Sea, despite competing claims from neighboring nations.
The film was jointly produced by DreamWorks Animation and the Shanghai-based Pearl Studio, which was founded in 2012 by DreamWorks as a Chinese-American joint venture but is now completely China-owned.
So far, here’s been the response to the movie by China’s South China Sea neighbors:
- Malaysia’s film censorship board has permitted the film to be shown, just with the map scene cut out. It will open next month.
- Vietnam banned the film from cinemas across the country on Sunday.
- Philippines foreign minister Teodoro Locsin has called for the map scene to be cut and for a “universal boycott” of all Dreamworks movies.
What about cutting out that scene? You're a lawyer, on what ground can we ban—and which agency has that power—an implicit message, assuming any Filipino will assert his First Amendment right in the case? For me call a universal boycott of all @Dreamworks productions from here on. https://t.co/WXQmL2BDF6
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) October 15, 2019
Despite its politically-correct map,Abominableactually ended up bombing in China. Even though its debut came during China’s Golden Week, the film has made a mere $14.6 million in the country and never ranked above third in the domestic box office charts.
However, it ended up performing better than expected in North America and its worldwide gross is up around $113 million.