Movies are a staple of entertainment in the US, and since the movie theater became such a popular space to enjoy movies, there has always been controversy surrounding what movies they decide to screen for a mass audience. Even with the MPAA rating system in place, there are still a lot of movies that theaters have refused to show and for a plethora of reasons.
We’re taking a look back at the most interesting, and often surprising movies that theaters wouldn’t show. In some cases, these movies were banned by entire countries and in others, the films were only denied by a few theaters.
The Last Temptation Of Christ Angered The Christian Community
If you’ve seen this film, you’ll know why it caused a lot of controversy amongst Christians. The movie depicts Christ going through very human conflicts, whilst being God. He struggles with the notion that he could live a happy normal life, and in parts shuns being God and doubts religion.
Christians were not happy about this depiction, which to them seemed entirely fictitious. It was banned in theatres all over the world including three in the US and many others abroad. One theatre was even set on fire by Catholic fanatics after the movie was screened.
The Interview Came Under Threat Of Violence For Theaters
The threat of terrorism is definitely a good reason to cancel a movie showing, but when that movie is a huge blockbuster comedy that’s highly anticipated, the public can get a little angry. That’s what happened when The Interview wasn’t allowed to be screened across the United States.
The reasons that many of the big movie theater groups wouldn’t show it was public safety – saying that they felt uncomfortable knowing that a group of hackers had threatened to attack any theater that screened the film.
A Clockwork Orange Was Too Violent For Some Countries To Handle
Now noted as one of the best movies in Hollywood history, this groundbreaking movie was extremely controversial for its time. Even now, watching it is very shocking. The portrayal of violence and sociopathic behaviors made many theaters pull or outright refuse to show the film.
It was also banned in many countries including Ireland and Singapore, due to its awful depictions of violent crime. These days you can see it in the theater and even on stage, with many theaters reintroducing A Clockwork Orange and hailing it as a cult classic.
Scarface Stereotyped Italians
When we mention Scarface, most people think of the 1983 movie starring Al Pacino. However, prior to this version, there was an original that was created back in the 1930s. Although it was a popular movie amongst those who had seen it, and it was based on a hugely successful book that came before it, many movie theatres chose not to show it because of the movie’s negative and controversial stereotyping.
Many Italian-Americans didn’t want to see the movie portraying Italians as gangsters and dangerous types as they thought it reflected badly on them and stirred cultural tensions. Many movie theatres respected their viewpoint and didn’t show the film.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Was Banned And Highly Censored Based On Location
It probably won’t surprise you to find out that this masterpiece was banned in many theaters. Whilst it’s still one of the most popular and highly regarded horror movies ever made, the original chainsaw massacre was deemed too violent and disgusting to be shown in theaters.
West Germany and Singapore completely banned the film due to it’s explicit violence, and in other countries outside the US it was censored to make it less offensive.
Monty Python’s Life Of Brian Was Banned In Norway And Ireland
Another movie that hit the headlines for inciting religious controversy and disrupting the peace was Monty Python’s Life of Brian. The satire is a hilarious comedy about a man who is mistaken for Christ. It’s very tongue in cheek, but many thought that it was degrading to multiple religions and shouldn’t be shown.
Citing their reasons for not showing it as blasphemy, Norway and Ireland both banned the movie from theaters when it was first released.
Brokeback Mountain Was Banned In The South And Various Countries Outside The U.S.
This amazing movie gained a lot of press – both good and bad – for its depiction of a gay relationship. Although it was released in 2005, the movie still caused a lot of controversies and was not shown in some theaters due to its depiction of gay cowboys.
It particularly disturbed theater-goers in the South, who take their religion and cowboy history very seriously – both of which they thought the movie disrespected. Outside fo the US the movie was also banned for its portrayal of homosexuality.
The Evil Dead Is A Cult Classic That Didn’t Get Much Love From Theaters
This shocking movie was not known for being shown in movie theater as its violent and disturbing plot became a bit of a taboo. Hardly any theaters in America showed the movie when it was originally released in 1981. Since that time it has become a popular cult classic that has fostered many spinoffs.
It’s full or torture, violence and generally not very nice things, so we’re not surprised that it made it onto this list.
Last Tango In Paris Was Deemed Inappropriate For The Big Screen
Once again, sexual content has placed this film on the list of movies that theaters wouldn’t show. It was banned in many countries because of its explicit nature, however, in the US it was well-received as a cult classic.
It follows the love affair between a French woman and American man, however, some movie theatres chose not to show it because of the eroticism that they deemed inappropriate for the screen.
Beauty And The Beast Was Banned In An Alabama Theater
The banning of this movie in Alabama is one of the more surprising and shocking on the list. One drive-in theatre thought that the character of LeFou was portrayed as gay – which they did not like one bit.
This homophobic banning shocked people while the theater’s owner said it was banned to protect children from seeing sin. The very Christian culture of that particular movie theater and location made the gay portrayal too much to handle.
Another very tragic and shocking film that was banned from a movie theater was Slender Man. This time the movie theater’s reasoning sounded fair. The movie is about a character who was created off the back of a meme, which prompted two 12-year-old girls to stab their friend 19 times.
Incredibly, the girl survived. But seeing as the violence happened so close to home for a Wisconsin theater company, they decided not to show it out of respect for the victim and so as not to incite any more violence.
Borat Was banned By Arab Countries
Who can forget the loveable and hilarious Borat? This character was controversial but very, very funny and brought something completely fresh to the big screen. However, whilst it was a major hit in the US, many Arab countries banned it and wouldn’t show it at all due to the connotations of the Cohen regime.
In America, a handful of theaters didn’t show it because it was too controversial, however, for the most part, it was considered a hit!
Back in 1915, a woman named Margaret Sanger decided to write and direct a film to display her work on contraception for women. The film was shown once at a private theater and was then banned by movie theaters. There was even a law made against the film that claimed it was too inappropriate for public consumption.
The law came into place so that films didn’t fall under the first amendment, meaning that they could be made illegal. As a result, the movie was never again shown in theaters, despite the decision to ban the film being overturned in the 1950s.
The Vanishing Prairie Was A Disney Banned Film In New York
In the 1940s, Disney created a few short movies about the West and all the beauty that can be found there. They were a hit, however movie theaters in New York decided that the images of animals were too graphic, and banned the movie.
The main issue was a buffalo giving birth, which was considered too graphic to be shown on the big screen. At the time, people found the ban a little strange, and New York theaters were eventually allowed to screen the movie.
Ecstasy Was Too Much For A 1930s Crowd To Handle
Compared to the kinds of movies we are exposed to now, and with the rise of the internet meaning we can get our hands on anything, this movie wouldn’t be that shocking to us. However, in 1933 when this movie came out intercourse and female nudity was not to be discussed or viewed in public.
As a result, the movie, which featured a woman naked running around a field, was banned from movie theaterss and was banned for viewing completely in the US until 1940.
I Am Curious (Yellow) Was Seized By US Customs
This movie was pretty groundbreaking for its time, and like the above movie, it caused a lot of controversy due to its sexual nature. The title is a good give away for what the movie is about – it follows a young lady who discovers her sexuality and becomes invested in various social issues as well.
It’s set in Stockholm and features an interview with Martin Luther King, who was randomly visiting at the time of filming. It was banned because of its sexual nature and was even seized by US customs. The ban was lifted in 1969.
Battle Royale Depicted Too Much Violence Among Children
If you want to watch something scary, eerie and a little bit disturbing then Battle Royale is for you. It’s often compared to the Hunger Games and involves a lot of violence that was deemed too much for many theaters in the US.
That being said, the movie did gain cult status in Japan and became known around the world. It is now regarded as one of Japan’s most successful films.
Hail Mary Undermined Christianity And Was Banned All Over The World
This is another film that got in trouble for blasphemy, due to its explicit sexual portrayals that put the Virgin Mary into a modern context to display the story. The movie is intelligently shot and has been praised for its art, however, in the early days hardly any theatres would show the film due to its religious connotations.
Theaters wouldn’t show it in the US and outside of the US countries like Brazil and Argentina banned it completely on the grounds that it undermined religion.
Fat Girl Was Banned Over The Age Of Its Actresses
This indie movie was not shown in very many US theatres due to its disturbing depiction of female sexuality. The most intimate scenes in the movie are thought to be highly inappropriate for the movie theater due to the age of the girls involved.
Many theatres feared that although it was artistically crafted, the movie would be too controversial for viewers and they thought that many would find it very distasteful. Some theaters did show it, but it didn’t go down as a classic.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Had A Profit-Share Issue
A number of smaller movie theatres decided not to show the Star Wars movie that came out in 2017, due to the way that the revenue was split between the theatre and the makers of the movie.
Sadly, for small theatres, the 65% ticket revenue costs were just too much, and the demands like insisting the movie was shown for a minimum of four weeks in the largest auditorium made it difficult for smaller theatres to turn a profit.