'Fifty Shades' Release Canceled in United Arab Emirates (Report)

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

Fifty Shades of Grey Still 4 - H 2015

Distributors choose not to release the film after censors recommended 35 minutes of cuts.

No doubt to the surprise of very few, Fifty Shades of Grey will not be screening in theaters in the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East’s largest box office.

Last week it was revealed that the country’s National Media Council, responsible for assessing films before their release, was reviewing the movie. But according to local newspaper 7Days, on Monday the council recommended 35 minutes of cuts due to “inappropriate scenes,” forcing distributor Four Star Films to pull the film.

"We reviewed the movie in the presence of the distributor and after he realized how many inappropriate scenes there were, he took the decision not to show the movie himself, before we were able to make a decision," the council’s director of media content Juma Al Leem told the paper.

Al Leem also said that the distributor made the decision so as not to "jeopardize his relations" with the producers, adding: "It would also not be fair to cinema-goers if they were expecting a full movie and went to a screening which had been altered so much."

But while Four Star Films may have made the decision not to release Fifty Shades due to excessive cuts, other majorly censored films have still made it to U.A.E. screens. Last year, theaters showed The Wolf of Wall Street with 45 minutes — a quarter of the overall length — removed, leading to widespread confusion among cinemagoers.

In 2012, producers of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo themselves declined the censors’ cuts, preferring that the film wasn’t released in the U.A.E, and other regional countries who generally follow its lead.