‘West Side Story’ banned in Saudi Arabia, other Gulf Nations

A classic and beloved musical, West Side Story, is hitting theaters this month with a new cast and a unique but faithful spin on the storyline. Audiences are ready to see the movie after rave reviews from critics and those who were able to screen the film early.

However, The Hollywood Reporter shared that West Side Story isn’t airing in the Gulf Nations.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait won’t be inviting Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story to their screens. As THR shares, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait didn’t grant a certificate of release for the film, while the other countries requested cuts that weren’t given for the film and have decided not to screen the movie.

THR reports that sources named the character Anybodys as the reason for the film not being screened. Anybodys is a transgender character played by Iris Menas, a nonbinary performer. Anybodys is billed as a tomboy in the original telling of West Side Story, but a report by Insider shares the following.

“Though never said on screen, in the film’s production notes, David Saint, executor of West Side Story author Arthur Laurents’ estate, said that the character is indeed transgender. Saint also said it was a choice Laurents would have approved, confirming that Anybodys ‘is a character who was a man born in a female’s body. End of story.'”

West Side Story is slated to hit theaters on Dec 9.