There were 1,571 press releases posted in the last 24 hours and 457,531 in the last 365 days.

The Lady of Heaven, dubbed “most controversial film of the year” set for a December worldwide digital release

The Lady of Heaven digital release poster

Protests, stormed cinemas, film cancellations and international news coverage. These words describe the climate of $15 million budget film ‘The Lady of Heaven’.

We are not in the business of portraying an over-romanticised version of Islamic history. We want to tackle it as it is, openly and honestly”
— Filmmakers
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, December 20, 2022 / -- Protests, death threats, radical Islamists, stormed cinemas, film cancellations and international news coverage. These words describe the climate of $15 million budget feature film ‘The Lady of Heaven’ during its UK theatrical release this past June. You’d be hard-pressed to find a high-budget cinematic feature film thrown out of major UK cinema chains by the demands of minority radical Islamists - but that’s exactly what happened with this ‘origins of Islam’ historical drama.

After the film’s theatrical release in the US, Canada, Ireland, Fiji, and Africa, it exploded onto the UK theatrical circuit on the 3rd of June. This sparked numerous protests to erupt across major cinema chains Cineworld, Vue Cinemas and Showcase Cinemas by crowds demanding the film be taken down due to depictions of the Prophet Muhammad and what they deemed a film riddled with blasphemy. Protestors sprouted outside one cinema chain after another, calling for the killing of the film’s writer. For the first time in cinema history, we witnessed cinema chains capitulate to mob rule, and in domino fashion, the film began to disappear from cinema screens one by one. While tickets were being sold out as customers flocked in droves to whatever screens remained, by mid-June, the film had been pulled from every cinema across the country.

The film saw nationwide news coverage by virtually all legacy and alternative news outlets, including the BBC, Sky News, ITV, LBC, and more. The film’s producers appeared in live debates head-to-head with protest leaders, making their case for freedom of speech and their right to artistic expression. The general public, as one would expect, opposed the film’s takedown and demanded cinemas uphold British values and resume the film’s screening. Customers even mockingly suggested cinema chains consult radical Islamics on whether or not to screen Jurassic World: Dominion.

The film’s cancellation triggered the world of politics to intervene as Baroness Fox of Buckley raised her concerns during a House of Lords parliamentary session, stating that the film’s cancellation was “disastrous for the arts, dangerous for free speech". The Government of the United Kingdom followed suit with the immediate sacking of its anti-Islam advisor Qari Assim for his support of protests that “limit free expression” and were tied to “Anti-Shia hatred”.

As the film’s producers predicted from the onset, due to the film’s bold and daring move to tackle controversial history, Middle Eastern authoritarian governments such as Pakistan, Morocco, and Iran banned the film. On the other hand, people in countries like Iraq and Kuwait showed strong support for the film by plastering the film’s official poster on large public billboards and parading large posters towards local holy shrines as a sign of respect for the film. This wasn’t a surprise, as the film’s trailer was trending #1 across numerous countries and received a world record of over 2,300 overwhelmingly positive video reactions, with people from all backgrounds expressing their curiosity and interest in seeing the film. We also saw support for the film manifest with over 200 superfans flying across Europe on a private A321 jet branded with ‘The Lady of Heaven’. In post-screening interviews, audience members from all backgrounds were seen leaving screenings teary-eyed as they expressed their newfound appreciation of the Lady and her hardships. During the attack on Lady Fatima and her death scenes, crying and wailing were heard from within cinema screens, reminding us of reactions reported from The Passion of the Christ’s theatrical run.

Through telling the life story of Lady Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, the film boldly tackles the very beginnings of Islam. The filmmakers unapologetically touch on the heart of the Shia-Sunni split and the brutal fight for power following Prophet Muhammad's death, with Lady Fatima carrying the brunt of the suffering due to her role as the vocal voice of justice and reason. The filmmakers say, “We are not in the business of portraying an over-romanticised version of Islamic history. We want to tackle it as it is, openly and honestly”, and “The film allows the audience to leave with a deeper understanding of the origins of modern-day terrorist groups like ISIS.”

The Lady of Heaven has attracted much attention due it being the first film to depict holy personalities such as the Prophet Muhammad, Lady Fatima and Imam Ali - which some critics have said is not permitted in Islamic tradition. Although, the filmmakers say that their use of CGI to depict these characters has allowed them to tell Lady Fatima's story while also remaining sensitive to Islamic tradition.

The film has been praised for its ethereal and immersive quality, seemingly brought to life by Oscar® Winner and famed CEO of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, John Stephenson, as the film’s creative consultant and shooting director. The film's writer, Sheikh al-Habib, a historian, cleric, and spiritual father to Muslims worldwide, played a critical role in ensuring the film was historically accurate and abided by religious sensitivities, including the depiction of holy personalities. He stated that the film is “a message of love and peace”, despite protestors calling for his killing and labelling him a ‘hate preacher’.

The movie is a collection of technology, storytelling, and middle-eastern history that has attracted audiences across the globe regardless of religious affiliation. “Her story is a universal one that we can all learn from, teaching us the best response to corruption and power-hungry politicians", filmmakers said.

With the film's unique controversy, being an award-winner at the Cannes 2021 film festival for ‘best visual effects’, and setting world records with its initial trailer release, film buffs surely have something to look forward to this Christmas.

The Lady of Heaven will see a worldwide VOD release on the 23rd of December and will be available in 20 subtitled languages on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Apple TV, and Microsoft Movies. Followed by a French dub version titled ‘La Dame du Paradis’ and an Arabic dub version titled "سيدة الجنة".

Adam Haddad
Enlightened Kingdom
+44 1753 662366
Visit us on social media:

The most controversial film of the year - OUT NOW ON DIGITAL!