KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The animated movie “Abominable” will skip Malaysian theaters after producers decided against cutting out a scene showing a map supporting Chinese claims to the disputed South China Sea.
Vietnam already pulled the U.S.-Chinese production from theaters over a fleeting image of the so-called nine-dash line, a vague and broken outline depicting much of the resource-rich sea as Chinese territory. China’s claims to the sea overlap with claims by Vietnam, Malaysia and other Asian governments.
Malaysian film distributor United International Pictures said in a brief statement Monday that “Universal has decided not to make the censor cut required by the Malaysian censor board and as such will not be able to release the film in Malaysia,” where it was due in theaters on Nov. 7. It declined to give further details.
Universal is the parent company of DreamWorks Animation, which co-produced the movie with China-based Pearl Studio. “Abominable,” which has nothing to do with the territorial dispute, is about a Chinese girl who helps a yeti get back to its home on Mount Everest.
The scene shows a wall map of East Asia with a series of dashes on the South China Sea. An international tribunal in 2016 invalidated China’s vast claims in a case brought by the Philippines, but the ruling was rebuffed by Beijing. China has continued to assert its claims to the sea by building and staffing outposts on man-made islands and deploying ships in the area.