Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ hit with bans in Middle East


After ‘Eternals’, another Disney film – Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of classic ‘West Side Story’ – has run into rough weather in the Middle East. The film won’t be available for exhibition in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.

While in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the film wasn’t granted a release certificate, in Qatar and Oman, Disney refused to comply with cuts requested by censors, reports Variety. The film has been banned in the aforementioned countries owing to the strict censorship mandates regarding sexuality, swearing, and other aspects that don’t fall congruent to the Middle East’s cultural views.

Although ‘West Side Story’ isn’t completely irreverent, but Anybodys, a transgender character portrayed by non-binary actor Iris Menas, became the bone of contention for the censors.

Films with LGBTQ references have been regularly targeted by censors in the Middle East, as well as China.

‘West Side Story’, the second feature film adaptation of the 1957 stage musical of the same name, features Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as star-crossed lovers having affiliation to rival gangs. The film, whose cast also includes Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, and Rita Moreno, is set to release theatrically worldwide on December 10.



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