‘Barbie’ Sets Release in Saudi Arabia and More Territories After Potential Ban in Middle East

“Barbie” will play in theaters across the Middle East after all.

Greta Gerwig’s billion-dollar blockbuster was running into censorship issues in certain territories, including in the region’s top market of Saudi Arabia, so it looked increasingly like the film would be banned. But those matters appear to have been resolved, as the movie is set to release on Thursday.

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“Barbie” was originally scheduled to debut in the Middle East on July 19, two days before landing in the rest of the world’s multiplexes. However, the release date was pushed back to Aug. 31 (before it was moved ahead to Aug. 10) after local censors suggested edits allegedly pertaining to LGBTQ-related narration and dialogue in “Barbie.”

Movies that concern or contain sex, homosexuality and religious issues are routinely cut in the Middle East to comply with censorship rules. If a studio is unwilling to make the adjustments suggested by censors, the films are banned from playing in theaters. Most recently, Sony’s summer blockbuster “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was not approved for release in Saudi and the UAE likely because of a scene that featured a “Protect Trans Lives” flag.

It is unclear if Warner Bros. and Mattel, the companies behind “Barbie,” complied with the proposed cuts to the film about the iconic Western doll. In the past, straight-to-video adaptations of “Barbie” were banned in Saudi Arabia due to the portrayal of women in non-traditional gender roles.

“Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, has already generated $1.03 billion at the global box office, including $468 million in North America.

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