Marrakech’s Colisee Cinema, the last remaining theater in Morocco to continue to screen “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” pulled Ridley Scott’s film over the weekend. Reported reason: The film’s representation of God in the form of a boy.
Egypt has already banned “Exodus,” because of its historical inaccuracies. According to Moroccan website Panorapost.com, cited by news agency EFE, Ministry of Interior agents turned up at Morocco’s Colisee Cinema on Friday and took down the front-of-house poster announcing the Hollywood biblical epic.
In a turnaround that suggests different currents of thought in Morocco, regarded as one of the most liberal of Arab world countries, the state-backed Moroccan Cinema Center (CCM) had originally approved the release of “Exodus.” But, per Moroccan media sources, last Wednesday, as the film opened in theaters, officials from the CCM phoned theater managers to tell them the film could not be screened.
Marrakech’s Colisee Cinema, whose Mounia Layadi Benkirane is also the film’s distributor in Morocco, insisted on screening the film until receiving written notice from the CCM that “Exodus” was prohibited. It had received that notice by Friday night.
“I deplore this censorship,” Benkirane said in a statement reported by Agence France-Presse. “The last screening was on Friday night at 21.30. I respect the decision of the CCM board,” she continued, adding, however, that she did not agree with it. “The child through whom Moses receives the revelation in the film at no time says he is God,” she said, noting that such a film ban is “very, very rare” in Morocco.
A member of the Europa Cinemas network, Morocco’s Coliseum Cinema is one of the most modern in the country, with a digital projector and 3D capabilities since 2012. Morocco’s now official ban does not mean, however, that Moroccans won’t get to see “Exodus.” Benkirane told Agence France-Presse that the film could have punched about 35,000 ticket sales in Morocco and earned some 1.8 million dirhams (nearly $200,000). Pic’s prohibition, and resultant buzz, “will profit only the pirates who continue to peddle the film,” she added.