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‘Barbie’ Finally Set for Release in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates After Speculation Film Would Be Banned

The Barbie juggernaut is — finally — set to reach the Gulf.

The Hollywood Reporter can confirm that the film — which has already passed $1 billion at the global box office — is set to be released in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this Thursday, ending weeks of speculation that Greta Gerwig’s record-breaking blockbuster would join a growing list of films to be banned.

THR understands that the film had originally been due for release across the region in line with its worldwide rollout on July 21. However, when local censors suggested a number of small edits, this date was pushed back to Aug. 31. While the move did destroy chances of Gulf cinemas getting to experience the so-called “Barbenheimer” phenomenon (Oppenheimer took full advantage and stormed to the top of box offices in its first week), it did presumably give both the censors and Barbie studio Warner Bros. ample time to iron out any issues. It seems a solution has now been found with a release date pulled forward, although THR has been unable to confirm whether or any cuts to the film have been made in order to secure this.

The release is currently limited to the Gulf’s two biggest box offices; there’s no news on Barbie opening in other Gulf territories. Generally, most follow whatever decision is made in Saudi Arabia, but Kuwait — which is often considered the strictest when it comes to censorship, especially over LGBTQ references — recently made the unprecedented move of banning hit horror movie Talk To Me, not over any aspect of the film itself but over the fact that its star Zoe Terakes identifies as nonbinary and trans masculine. Talk to Me has released in all other Gulf markets uncut.



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