DreamWorks Animation's Abominable has been pulled from all Vietnamese theaters. Moviegoers and Vietnamese officials took offense to a scene which features a map favoring China's disputed geographical claims in the South Sea. The animated family movie hit Vietnamese theaters at the beginning of the month and comes at a time where there is "heightened concern over Hollywood kowtowing to Beijing." DreamWorks Animation teamed up with China's Pearl Studio, which is owned by "Chinese entertainment conglomerate China Media Capital, an entity partially backed by the Chinese government."

The Abominable scene in question shows a map which features the controversial "nine-dash line," "covering a vast U-shaped expanse of the South China Sea." China has claimed sole ownership of the region for years, mainly due to all of the resources in the area. Many Southeast Asian nations disagree wholeheartedly and claim that it is theirs, mainly due to the fact that they are geographically much closer. In addition, this summer saw escalated tensions between China and Vietnam after "Beijing sent a ship to conduct an energy resources survey within waters controlled by Vietnam."

It is believed that the map scene in Abominable was done on purpose at a time when Hollywood has been criticized for doing whatever China wants in exchange for projects getting in front of their huge population. South Park recently had their show and its entire existence completely erased from China's internet after they released their Band in China episode. The crew took aim at Hollywood cleansing their movies in an effort to not offend the Chinese government and it was not seen in a good light. However, many have praised the show for calling out the matter on such a public forum.

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In a report from last month, it was revealed just how much Abominable was trying to be accurate for China. Director/writer Jill Culton worked very hard with her overseas coproducers to make sure details as small as a dinner table were up to Chinese standards. "In order to look authentic to a Chinese audience, that table had to be jam-packed with soup, chicken wings and other dishes, the China producers told Culton," according to the original report. Abominable is the first project from Pearl Studio, formerly known as Oriental DreamWorks, which "launched in 2012 with China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group to capitalize on the growing Chinese film market."

Peilin Chou, Pearl Studio's chief creative officer talked about their goal before Abominable hit theaters last month. "We believe it is possible to tell stories that are culturally specific and also relatable to the globe. Abominable is the perfect example of that," said Chou. Regardless, this type of thing will see their movies get banned in certain Southeast Asian nations, especially if they keep catering to China in such an obvious way. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce the Abominable Vietnam news.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick