Vietnam Bans ‘Barbie’ Movie Due To South China Sea Map Depiction In Film

Gosling and Robbie
Greg Doherty/WireImage via Getty Images

The highly anticipated “Barbie” movie just got banned in Vietnam due to content that government officials find offensive.

The Greta Gerwig-directed fantasy comedy starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken was scheduled to premiere in Vietnam on July 21, the same day as the United States release. But now the Warner Bros. film won’t be able to count on any revenue from the country, per Variety

The issue is that “Barbie” includes a scene with the U-shaped “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea. This region has been a point of contention between Vietnam and China for years. The line is shown on Chinese maps to indicate their claims over the area despite Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan claiming parts of the same maritime area.

“We do not grant license for the American movie ‘Barbie’ to release in Vietnam because it contains the offending image of the nine-dash line,” Vi Kien Thanh, head of the Department of Cinema, a government body in charge of licensing and censoring foreign films, was quoted as saying in the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper.

“Barbie” isn’t the first film banned for including the nine-dash line. The Vietnamese government also blocked the DreamWorks animated film “Abominable” (2019) and the action-adventure film “Unchartered” (2022) for the same reason. Netflix removed the Australian spy drama “Pine Gap” in 2021 for their inclusion of the line.

Details about the plot of the “Barbie” movie have been kept under wraps ever since the project was announced. Gosling joked that Mattel would “box [him] up” if he revealed any details before the premiere. Earlier this year, Simu Liu (Ken #2) called the film “wild” and “incredibly unique.” He said, “I wish I could just show you what we do day-to-day because it’s crazy.”


“People don’t have any idea what to expect [with the film], and I think that that’s the right vibe,” actress America Ferrera (Gloria) told People magazine. “Whatever you think it is, it’s not that. It’s something else.”

The trailer indicates that “Barbie” follows the iconic doll as she leaves her perfect, stylized world and explores the “real world” after becoming disillusioned with her life and wanting more. 

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