Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is finally hitting theatres next week, but some countries aren't expected to show the Marvel film. It was announced last week that the movie had been banned in Saudi Arabia and the same announcement soon followed in Egypt. Now, it's looking like China will also refrain from showing the film. In the case of Saudia Arabia and Egypt, it's been reported that the reasoning behind the film's ban is due to 12 seconds of footage that Disney refused to take out which references America Chavez's (Xochitl Gomez) mothers. However, Deadline reports that China is no longer expected to screen the movie due to a scene in the opening that features a newspaper kiosk with the Chinese characters for The Epoch Times, an international multi-language newspaper and media company that opposes the Chinese Communist Party.
"We understand that Doctor Strange 2 has been submitted to the Chinese authorities for review and that a release has not yet been nixed or approved. It appears the current brouhaha has been fueled by netizens doing a frame-by-frame analysis of the scene in question," Deadline writes. 20 minutes of the film were recently screened at CinemaCon, and it's been reported that the kiosk in question is only in the background and barely noticeable.
Since films have returned to theatres during the pandemic, China hasn't released any of the MCU films or Sony's Marvel movies. Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Spider-Man: No Way Home were all stopped from showing in theatres for various reasons. At the end of last year, Dune and No Time to Die were the first big Hollywood films to hit China since Free Guy. Recently, The Batman was also released in China, but it didn't do as well as expected due to COVID-19-related closures.
You can read the official description for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness below:
"Now that Iron Man and Captain America have left after a fierce battle in Avengers: Endgame, former genius surgeon and the strongest magician of them all, Doctor Strange, is expected to play an active role as a central figure in the Avengers. However, using his magic to manipulate time and space at will with a forbidden spell that is considered the most dangerous has opened the door to a mysterious madness called 'the Multiverse.'"
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens only in theaters on May 6th.