Disney refused to comply with cuts requested by censors in Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE.
Disney and 20th Century’s West Side Story, director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the classic musical, will not be released in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
The film was submitted across the Middle East region, but Saudi Arabia and Kuwait did not approve distribution certificates while censors in the other markets listed above requested that cuts be made.
The decision was due to the character Anybodys, written as transgender in the new adaptation and played by nonbinary actress Iris Menas. With homosexuality officially illegal across the Gulf, films that feature any LGBTQ references or issues often fall foul of the censors.
West Side Story releases elsewhere in theatres on November 10. The new version comes 60 years after the original movie (itself adapted from the 1957 Broadway show) and features Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as star-crossed lovers. Their new romance fuels the rivalry between warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. The cast also includes Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Mike Faist as Riff, and Rita Moreno (who won an Oscar for portraying Anita in the 1961 adaptation) as Valentina.
Earlier this year, the Marvel movie Eternals was barred from release in the same region due to its inclusion of a same-sex kiss scene.