"Abominable" causes censorship issues in several ASEAN countries

Florey DM
ASEAN audiences are shocked by the controversial scene in "Abominable".
ASEAN audiences are shocked by the controversial scene in "Abominable".

21 Oct – Due to the recent issue regarding the controversial scene in "Abominable", the animated movie will no longer be releasing in certain ASEAN cinemas, including Malaysia.

The movie was originally slotted for release in the country on 7 November 2019.

However, over the weekend, anger erupted among Southeast Asians when it was revealed that one of the scenes in the movie showed a world map that featured the Nine-Dash Line, often used by China to indicate its claims on the South China Sea.

The aforementioned marginal sea that's part of the Pacific Ocean has long been the subject of a territorial dispute between the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan), Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.


The offending map in one of the scenes in "Abominable"
(Photo source: yourtitakate's Twitter)

When the issue sparked, the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (LPF) asked local distributor United International Pictures (UIP) to cut the offending scene in order to receive approval to be screened in local cinemas. However, UIP has decided to pull it off its release schedule altogether.

Cinema Online has reached out to UIP for a comment regarding its decision to cancel the movie's release but at the time of writing, the distributor has yet to comment.


As for the other abovementioned nations, both Vietnam and the Philippines released the movie earlier this month but following the controversy, the movie is now no longer showing in Vietnamese cinemas.

Meanwhile, the showtimes for it have also decreased in Philippines cinemas, especially after Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin voiced his opinion on it, calling not only for the offending scene to be cut but also for local audiences to avoid watching the movie.

While most of ASEAN take offense to China's claim, there are exceptions such as Cambodia and Singapore, who are part of the non-claimant states. The movie opened in the former since 5 October and is currently still showing in cinemas, while it is still set to open in the latter on the scheduled 7 November.

Produced by Universal Pictures' subsidiary DreamWorks Animation and China's Pearl Studio. "Abominable" follows Chinese teen Yi and her friends who are trying to help a young Yeti named Everest, who escaped from a wealthy businessman's place, return to Mount Everest so that he can be reunited with his family. While doing so, they must avoid the wealthy businessman and a determined zoologist who are hunting Everest for their own gain.