Ramadan cited as regional release of The Dark Knight Rises pushed back
It's easily the most anticipated film of the year, bound to be this summer's biggest blockbuster and the final part in possibly the finest superhero series of all time. It's also coming out in the UAE almost a month after the rest of the world. And fans eager to see The Dark Knight Rises are not happy.
Well, most of the planet will be able to enjoy Christopher Nolan's climactic Gotham City sign-off, Christian Bale's last gig in the bat suit and Anne Hathaway's best cat impressions on July 20, the film's official launch date. But in the UAE - and across much of the region - it won't be out until August 16.
The reason for the wait
"Out of respect for the UAE and Islamic customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan, we schedule the new film releases until the Eid Holiday," says Roy Chacra, the managing director of Shooting Stars, the film's regional distributor.
So, each year, instead of new titles, we're treated to re-releases of films of a generally "less blockbuster" nature. Last year's Ramadan gave cinemagoers such enticing options as Ghost Machine, Prom and We Are The Night to choose from. No, we didn't bother either.
Fans do not like …
An online petition, believed to have originated in Qatar, is calling on the distributors to release the movie on July 20, and has been spreading like wildfire across the UAE via social media sites.
"For fans who have been tremendously dedicated to this franchise from Batman Begins, it is ridiculous that we should have to wait an entire month for what could become one of the UAE's favourite movies of all time," it states, adding that The Dark Knight is one of the UAE's top 10 films of all time.
… but probably won't be able to do anything about it
Some of the petitioners argue the decision is more about finances rather than cultural sensitivities. "It can't be because of any other reason," says Ali Hasan, a financial auditor in Abu Dhabi who has been spreading the petition across the UAE's online message boards.
"If it was because of Ramadan itself then cinemas would be shut down. But because nobody is going they instead release films in time for Eid, because that's when people start going out again."
However, there are hopes that there will be some limited screenings for diehard fans. "If anything comes of the petition, it'll be great. Because even if the film's a day late, everyone here is going to know the story."
Right, the plot will surely be spoiled …
"It's going to be very difficult," says Hasan. "Somebody is going to post a Wikipedia link somewhere or message you the story. If something happens like Batman dies, it's even going to be in the news. I guess you should just stay away from the internet for a month."
… time for Plan B
Apparently, there are several fans who are planning trips to Jordan - where the film is due to come out on time - to watch The Dark Knight Rises and avoid any upsets. "I know a few people who are going," says Hasan. "I'm actually thinking of it quite seriously myself."