Los Angeles: After a 42-year ban, Anthony Quinn-starrer The Message has been approved by Middle East censors.
A 4K restored edition of The Message, Moustapha Akkad’s controversial 1975 film chronicling the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad is set to become the first Arabic title to get a theatrical release in Saudi Arabia, reports hollywoodreporter.com.
The historical epic was initially banned in Arab territories, facing opposition from authorities and forcing the crew to move to Morocco and recreate model cities of Mecca and Medina for the shoot.
During its release, it also faced heavy backlash and theatrical banning in most Middle Eastern territories.
In the US, the film’s theatrical release was suspended after an extremist group staged a siege in Washington DC after it was mistakenly believed that Quinn played the role of Prophet Muhammad on film.
But the newly restored version of the film, which received its world premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival, is now due to travel across the region in time for the Eid holidays on Thursday, with Trancas International and local distributors Front Row Filmed Entertainment having signed a deal.
“The Message”, about the birth of Islam, also marks Front Row’s first theatrical release in the newly-opened Saudi cinema market.
“The Saudi authorities allowed the film to pass and this in turn opened the door to the rest of the region. In the burgeoning landscape of the Saudi cinema market, The Message release could be its most important film,” Front Row managing director Gianluca Chakra said.