AMBER VERNETTI WRITES – The Wolf of Wall Street, the contentious, prize-winning film directed by Martin Scorsese, was released in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with significant scene deletions and other adjustments. Due to the film’s abundant use of derogative language (over 500 curse words) and lurid scenes of drug abuse and sexual activities, the country’s film distributors ordered that these sections be cut or muted before submitting the work for final authorization.
In Scorsese’s film, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a 1990s Wall Street stock broker who was convicted of fraud. Of the 180 minutes of footage, 45 minutes of it was cut and much of the foul language muted.
In the UAE, movie theaters have warned audiences of the changes to the film. One sign from Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall reads, “Dear Customers, Kindly be informed that the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ contains muted words, and some scenes have been removed as they were not considered suitable.”
The National Media Council (NMC), the government committee in charge of regulating film content, denies its involvement in the removal and muting of explicit sex scenes and language.
Juma Obaid Al Leem, manager of media content regulation for the NMC, said, “We didn’t touch the film. The distributor already made the cut when it came to us.”
Al Leem said that the distributor, Gulf Film LLC, cut and muted parts of the film because they “[wanted] to distribute the film in the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
Some moviegoers displayed their disapproval for UAE’s shortened version, tweeting, “Do not watch Wolf of Wall Street in Dubai cinemas. They literally butchered the movie to the point it’s unwatchable.”
Since its release on December 25, the $100 million film has earned $97 million in ticket sales worldwide. Yet, one could assume the UAE didn’t contribute much to this substantial revenue.