6 Films With Internationally Historic Debuts

2018 brought with it a historic screening of Black Panther in Saudi Arabia, breaking a 35-year-old ban on movie theaters. But how many other films have had such an impact on the international stage for their debuts? To find out, read on for our list of movies with internationally historic debuts.

Star Wars

The 1977 classic that came to redefine sci-fi adventure and movie blockbusters as we know them, unfortunately, didn’t debut in China around this time. The film missed its Chinese premiere due to communist rule that prevented films coming in from outside the country. It would not be until 2015 at the Shanghai International Film Festival when the unforgettable adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia would finally grace a Chinese screen. Not only would the festival debut A New Hope, but five other Star Wars movies as well.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

While the iconic fantasy adventure of children venturing into a wondrous candy factory was shot in Germany, the film wasn’t released in the country on home video or in its uncut format. The movie would not make its uncut DVD debut in the country until 2005, the same year as the debut of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Better late than never.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

While animated films have recently been doing well in Saudi Arabia, the latest Hotel Transylvania marked another history-making debut. Premiering across the region, the monster comedy is the first animated film to receive an Arabic dub, which includes the voices of the talented Qusai Kheder and Raya Abirached.


Pixar’s adventure tale of an old man and a boy scout braving South America with a flying house was a critical success. But before plowing into American cinemas, Up made its debut at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, marking the first time an animated film opened the festival. In addition, the movie would also go on to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.


Regarded as one of the most classic of science fiction films, Metropolis was the first German sci-fi movie that made its worldwide debut at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo cinema in Berlin during 1927. It’s been said that there was much clapping at screening for the astounding special effects of towering skyscrapers, but some reports imply that it was a mostly mute screening.

Tokyo File 212

Tokyo File 212 was a notable spy for being an American-Japanese co-production, and the first American movie shot entirely in Japan. The Japanese premiere at the Tokyo's Ernie Pyle theatre had invited General Douglas MacArthur and Japanese emperor Hirohito. For the American debut, geisha girls from Japan came to several theaters to perform the film’s opening sequence.

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