Barbie was recalled from cinemas in Punjab after being screened for just one day. Despite facing censorship for four objectionable words, the film was initially allowed to be screened on Saturday morning.
However, by late night, cinemas started refunding tickets and canceling shows.
This sudden cancellation caused a social media uproar as fans were confused about the actions of Barbie distributors, HKC Films, and the Punjab Censor Board.
Reports within the censor board revealed that the film was recalled due to public complaints, despite initially receiving a No Objection Certificate (NOC).
According to a report from the censor board, the film has not been banned but rather recalled for another review.
This decision was made by the government of Punjab, not the censor board. The exact date for the second review is yet to be finalized. The intervention of the government has raised questions about the autonomy and authority of the censor board.
Some cinemas in Punjab, like Cue Cinemas, had reservations about the release of Barbie and chose not to screen the film even during the short period it was allowed.
Cue Cinema’s on-duty manager, Mohammad Mansoor, stated that they were uncertain about the film’s reception, leading to their decision.
It’s worth mentioning that after the passing of the 18th Amendment, censor boards now function as provincial bodies, with Sindh, Punjab, and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) operating independently with their respective board members.
Barbie was allowed to release uncut and uncensored with a PG rating by Sindh and the Central Board for Film Certification.