Middle East Censors Reviewing 'Fifty Shades of Grey' for Possible Release (Report)

Fifty Shades of Grey Still 4 - H 2015
Courtesy of Universal

Fifty Shades of Grey Still 4 - H 2015

The U.A.E. media council says it is assessing the film, which is due for release in Lebanon.

While critics in Europe and North America may have taken issue with the lack of sex in Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation, it looks likely that the film will still be too steamy for most audiences in the Middle East.

But although the region is renowned for cutting or even banning films outright — The Wolf of Wall Street was snipped by 45 minutes in Gulf countries — censors in the United Arab Emirates have admitted that they are reviewing Fifty Shades.

According to an article in local English-language newspaper The National, the National Media Council’s Media Content Tracking Department, which is responsible for evaluating potential releases, is currently assessing the film, with a decision not yet made.

Few will be expecting Fifty Shades to make it through. While violence is prevalent on Middle East cinema screens, sex and nudity are no-go zones along with most issues concerning religion. Last year, both Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings were banned across the Arab world, largely due to their depictions of religious prophets, although an edited version of Ridley Scott’s biblical epic finally made it onto Moroccan screens.

But there isn’t a set standard across the entire region, with the issue of what’s acceptable and what isn’t still a major gray area, if you will. In Lebanon, Fifty Shades is being released on Thursday. However sources claim it has been given a last-minute 21 certificate by the country’s General Security Directorate intelligence agency, nine years higher than the age at which moviegoers can be admitted in France.

Lebanon famously was the only country in the Middle East that screened Brokeback Mountain, albeit a censored version, yet banned The Da Vinci Code.