Rocketman is facing more adversity overseas, as the movie has been banned in Samoa. The Elton John biopic, which stars Taron Egerton as the iconic, Grammy-winning musician, has been earning a great deal of praise since its release in theaters last month. Director Dexter Fletcher and the creative team didn’t pull any punches, nor did they shy away from showcasing John’s life as a gay man. And it’s precisely those elements that have lead to the ban in Samoa.
According to a new report, censors in Samoa have banned Rocketman entirely due to its depiction of homosexuality. Previously, Russia had censored some of the gay sex scenes in the movie, which Elton John and the filmmakers were very much against. In this case, residents of the island nation won’t have the chance to see it at all, censored or otherwise. Leiataua Niuapu Faaui, a censor from Samoa, had this to say to a local publication about the ban.
“We’re concerned with the cultural values and also the Christian beliefs here in Samoa, it’s not appropriate for public viewing.”
Samoa has a population of around 200,000 people. A staggering 97 percent of them identify as Christian. Sodomy is a very serious crime in the country, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison, even if both individuals were consenting. As such, it makes some sense that censors in the country feel certain content in the movie isn’t appropriate. Samoa has banned other movies for its depiction of LGBTQ characters’ lifestyle in the past, such as 2009’s Milk, the Harvey Milk biopic, and the 2006 adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.
The Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, even though it held a PG-13 rating and was accused of glossing over certain elements of Freddie Mercury’s life, specifically as it related to his sexuality, also faced some censorship issues during its run at the box office, with censors in Samoa editing certain scenes before allowing it to play in theaters. But it was ultimately given a theatrical run. Rocketman is an R-rated, fantastical look at Elton John’s life. As such, It was never going to appeal to quite as wide of an audience in the U.S. or abroad. Still, it’s a shame that moviegoers in certain places around the world don’t get the chance to decide for themselves what they would or wouldn’t like to see.
Related: Rocketman Cannes Premiere Gets Surprise Elton John & Taron Egerton Duet
Ultimately, the movie probably won’t suffer much, financially speaking, as a result of the ban. To date, Rocketman has made $103 million at the box office since its launch on May 31, working from a reported budget of $40 million. The biopic has also been met with rave reviews, currently boasting a 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While it’s still early to say, this is viewed as a strong Oscar contender, with many feeling Taron Egerton has a legitimate shot at a Best Actor nomination. This news was previously reported by Reuters.