Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Now Being Released in Theaters Worldwide

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Now Being Released in Theaters Worldwide

The Disney+ original series centered on genocidal dictator Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, which was said to be scrapped by the streaming platform and only be shown in cinemas in Turkey, is now playing in international cinemas and is set to arrive in the US in 2024.

The project was originally planned as a six-part series and set to be broadcast on Disney+ on October 29, 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Disney+ later announced that they would not broadcast the project, after boycotts from the Armenian and Greek communities.

The new plan announced at that time was that the project would be released in two parts, one of which would air on Turkey’s Disney-owned Fox network and the other will appear exclusively in theaters in Turkey, as part of a “revised content distribution strategy," per Disney. The statement did not explain why plans for the production had changed from a television series format or why the project would not be aired on Disney+.

Hüseyin Yayman, Chair of the Turkish Parliament's Digital Media Commission, soon after called on Disney representatives to appear before them on November 9 and clarify to them what led to the cancellation. Hüseyin Yayman claimed Disney's move was an "act of clear censorship" and said he expected "Disney officials to apologize to the Turkish nation on this issue."

The project, now known as Atatürk 1881 - 1919, has been reworked as a two-part feature-length series. The film premiered at the Atatürk Cultural Center in Istanbul on October 23. 

Saner Ayar, producer of the film, claims Disney's decision to pull the project from its platform was not "specific to Turkey." In his view, the decision was to stop productions in all markets outside the United States. Saner Ayar goes on to state that the filmmakers initially planned to produce the project at HBO, but the project didn't move forward when HBO made a decision not to produce projects outside of the US. The producer asserts "Disney asked us to project the movie for them."

Saner Ayar further notes that had the project remained on Disney+, only subscribers of that platform would see the film, but he now claims that the film will be released in theaters around the world, including England, France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Sweden, and dozens of other countries. In his statement, he goes on to state the film will also be released in "all of Europe, 19 Arab countries, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan and possibly China, and in the US after January 2024. In addition, according to TRT Deutsch, a theatrical release followed FOX TV’s special television version on October 29, Republic Day of Turkey. The second part was set to be released on December 22.

These remarks have not been confirmed by the Armenian Film Society, though we can confirm the film is currently playing in theaters in several countries, including over a dozen cinemas in Germany, with the second part being released on January 4, 2024, which has already been announced by several European countries.

This is an ongoing matter that the Armenian Film Society is closely monitoring. We call on all theaters that are currently showing the film, or have plans to show the film, to stop immediately. We will announce more information on theaters showing the film when that information is available. We call on individuals to contact theaters to have them not show a film in support of a genocidal dictator.