Sacha Baron Cohen has built most of his career on deliberately stirring up controversy, but even by his usual high standards of intentionally causing offense, The dictator reached new heights.
To be fair, that was pretty much the only outcome, considering the Ali G, Borat and Bruno creator was headlining a blockbuster Hollywood comedy in which he starred as the ruthless ruler of an oil-rich fictional North African Landes played, and in that regard it definitely didn’t disappoint front side.
The dictator was banned in Belarus, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, while 10 minutes were cut from the running time so it could be shown in Uzbekistan, and in Kazakhstan, a country where Cohen is not well respected, it was pulled from theaters after two weeks for obvious reasons.
A censored cut was released in Pakistan that was blocked by Malaysia, and a specific mention of the “Italian Prime Minister” was deleted to prevent an explicit mention of the scandal-plagued Silvio Berlusconi, not to mention the constant accusations of Islamophobia that be raised against the film. Despite all this, not to mention the decidedly mediocre ratings of 56 and 44 percent among critics and audiences, The dictator caused a huge stir at the box office with grosses of almost $180 million.
More than a decade later – and after Cohen recently returned to the source of the provocative material Borat Subsequent Movie Film – The hot button hit has scored a coup on Netflix’s global watchlist. Per FlixPatrol, The dictator has made the top 10 in 36 countries worldwide and is now the sixth most-watched film across the platform, which has undoubtedly brought some more new faces onto the scene.