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Top 10 Banned Sci-Fi Movies in Film History

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Read a list of movies banned around the world for sometimes goofy reasons. In the history of film certain films have been banned because of film censorship, political or moral reasons. 

Usually, the movie can be recut into an approved film. But sometimes a movie is considered so dangerous that it's banned outright and illegal to watch.

Here's a list of science-fiction movies that have been banned around the world and why.

10. Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein (1948)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) - Wilbur (Lou Costello), Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Monster (Glenn Strange)

Territory Banned: Finland
The comedy duo of Abbott and Costello… It's a comedy! Or so people thought.

Turns out it was a lot scarier than people thought. Even today it’s surprisingly violent.  Quentin Tarantino lists this as one of his three most influential films. "I literally thought, 'Wow this is the greatest movie ever — my two favorite types of movies in one," he said. "When it’s scary, it’s really scary, and when it’s funny, it’s really funny. And I guess I’ve been trying to do that my whole career."

Why does he call it "really scary"? Because the monster killed people! First, there's the horror of taking out Costello's brain and putting in Frankenstein's Monster. Then a nurse gets thrown through a window.

The movie was so scary that it was banned in Finland. The government agency Finnish Board of Film Classification banned the movie because “actual violence presented as entertainment” which was considered “criminal content” at the time.


9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Gertie (Drew Barrymore)

Territory Banned: Sweden, Finland, and Norway
E.T. is a classic and heartwarming tale of a boy that finds an alien, feeds it candy, gets it drunk and flies through the sky. It’s been beloved by generations for good reason.

But Scandinavia wasn’t having it. If you lived in Sweden, Finland, or Norway and were under 12 you weren’t allowed to watch it. The Swedish Board of Film Censorship said it would cause kids to see "adults as enemies of children." They felt these subversive ideas would inevitably lead to a childhood revolution.

The only thing it really did was prompt thousands of kids to pretend to be 11.

The movie was still a blockbuster hit. So far the child revolution never happened but we should keep an eye on the place just in case they ever see "Home Alone".


8. Wonder Woman (2017)

Image of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in Wonder Woman movie
Wonder Woman (2017) Diana Prince (Gal Gadot)

Territory Banned: Arab League: Lebanon, Qatar, and Tunisia
An Amazon princess travels to America to become the superhero Wonder Woman.

The casting of Gal Gadot was controversial. Most of the complaints were that she was so skinny she could hula hoop with a cheerio. But one country took the casting for a whole different reason.

Lebanon's Ministry of Economy and Trade said in a statement that it has "taken all necessary action" to ban the film starring "the Israeli actress Gal Gadot." Why?

Gadot is from Tel Aviv and was a combat trainer in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) for two years.  They’re at war with Israel and there’s a law that boycotts Israeli products. It also bars Lebanese citizens from traveling to Israel or having contacts with Israelis. Due to the Arab League boycott of Israel, it is also banned in Qatar and Tunisia. Lebanon takes it so seriously they almost banned Batman v Superman for Gadot's brief cameo.


7. Back to the Future (1985)

Image of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future movie
Back to the Future (1985) Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd)

Territory Banned: China
The movie about two friends traveling back in time to meet his parents in the 1950s

Michael J. Fox' classic sci-fi movie is banned in China. Not because they went over the 88 mph speed limit but for its depiction of time travel.

General Bureau of Radio, Film, and Television in China believes that stories that show people traveling back in time “disrespect history”. There's some debate about if this law is actually in effect, but the topic is listed as banned according to the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT)  guidelines (Chinese). It says that "Producers and writers are treating serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore".

So any movie or television show with that theme are banned. Unless someone goes back in time and prevents the law from being made.

6. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2005)

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie)

Territory Banned: China
Angelina Jolie starred in a movie based on the popular video game character Lara Croft. She's an adventurous treasure hunter looking for a mythical object.

Among the scenes in the film is a crime lord named Chen Lo and has several fight scenes in the country.

The movie was banned for the "unflattering" depiction of Chinese life. "The movie does not understand Chinese culture," an unnamed official said. "It does not understand China's security situation. In China, there cannot be secret societies."

5. Avatar (2009)

Avatar (2009) Jake Sully (Sam Worthington)

Territory Banned: China
A marine who loses his legs finds a new purpose for living with aliens. He eventually fights against his organization to save the aliens from forced relocation.

This movie is banned in China for two reasons. First, the country felt it was taking too much money away from domestic films. And second, they felt it may lead audiences to think about forced removal, and may possibly incite violence.


4. 2012 (2009)

2012 (2009) Jackson Curtis (John Cusack)

Territory Banned: North Korea
2012 is a disaster movie about a worldwide natural event that destroys the world. John Cusack plays a father who's trying to unravel the mystery and save his family.

It's banned in North Korea because the year 2012 coincides with the 100th birthday of the founder of North Korea Kim Il Sung. The year had also been designated "the year for opening the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower."

They didn’t like the idea of a huge natural disaster happening in that year. Kind of bad PR.


3. The Hunger Games (2012)


Territory Banned: Vietnam
In a dystopian world of the near future children are forced to fight and kill each other in an arena during the so-called “Hunger Games”.

The movie was set for release when the screening date was postponed “indefinitely”. Compared with the violent and sometimes cruel deaths in the book the movie plays like Sesame Street and got a PG-13 rating.

Vietnam disagreed and implied the US is a bunch of bloodthirsty savages. "The movie tells a story about a game in which 24 young players kill each other to survive," Nguyen Thi Hong Ngat, member of the National Film Board, said. "The game is even broadcast live on TV and audiences can see directly the deadly fight. The bloody scenes may be acceptable in America, but in Vietnam, they’re too violent and ruthless."

The country eventually did screen the movie and its sequels, so I guess their J. Law love is too strong to resist.

2. Ghostbusters (2016)


Territory Banned: China
Four women prove they “ain’t afraid of no ghosts” and form a team to battle the apparitions.

Interestingly the original 1980s film was released in China. The reboot didn’t. Why? China has a censorship ban on anything promoting "cults or superstition" and the ghosts and other creatures crossed the line.

The studio made a name change to try and get around it. The new title roughly translated to "Super Power Dare Die Team". It didn’t work.


1. Star Wars (1977)


Territory Banned: China
Star Wars tells the story of a farm boy who joins a growing rebellion against a powerful galactic empire. In the 1970s China was going through its own great change. The communist country was going through the end of the cultural revolution where the government banned many artistic works on ideological grounds.

China banned all western media and had a special hatred for science fiction. A little after the US release of "Star Wars" in 1977, the Communist Party mouthpiece The People's Daily attacked the film in earnest.

They describe it as a fantasy that showed how America's "dissatisfaction with reality" had pushed them to "seek comfort in an illusory fairyland".

Eventually, the Star Wars movies made it to China but the movies aren't popular. While the last few movies have done well, "The Last Jedi" underperformed at the box office.

Which is the most surprising movie banned for the silliest reason?

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