Louie Psihoyos' documentary The Cove won an Oscar at this year's Academy Awards ceremony, but film fans in Japan apparently won't have an opportunity to see it because theaters there have canceled the opening screenings amidst threats of protest.

The film, which chronicles the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, has been protested by Japanese groups who defend the practice of killing whales and dolphins as part of their cultural heritage. Cinemart Theaters in Osaka and Tokyo have pulled planned screenings of the film out of fear for their patrons' safety after receiving threatening phone calls and warnings of protests from groups who view the film as "anti-Japan."

The Cove did show at the Tokyo International Film Festival last fall, but that marks the only time it has shown in Japan to date. Ric O'Barry, a former dolphin trainer who appears in the film, said "It's not right that a small minority of extremists could take this right away from them, to do so is a clear threat to democracy."

It remains unclear as to when the film might finally play in Japanese theaters, but one thing's for sure -- it won't be in the immediate future. What do you think? Should theaters show this powerful film and employ extra security just in case, or are they doing the right thing by pulling it until things die down? Hit the comment sections and opine until your heart's content.

[via New York Times]