Wolf of Wall Street Neutered as Gulf Version Is Cut by a QuarterStefania Bianchi
Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which uses the f-word more than any feature film ever made, was cut by a quarter in the Dubai and other Gulf nation versions for multiple scenes depicting drug use and sex.
The film, which earned Leonardo DiCaprio a Golden Globe award and opened in Dubai last week, is 45 minutes shorter than its original running time of 180 minutes after scenes including a man snorting cocaine from a woman’s naked body and full-frontal naked scenes featuring both sexes were cut. The f-word is used 569 times in the original, more than any feature film ever made, according to the Internet Movie Database website.
The film depicts the story of U.S. stockbroker Jordan Belfort who was convicted of fraud in the 1990s. The original version shows 24 scenes of sex and nudity. Almost all swear words have been cut or muted in the Dubai version, while most kissing and sex scenes were chopped. The excised version is also showing in Gulf nations such as Qatar and Kuwait, which follow similar censorship rules to the United Arab Emirates.
“We didn’t touch the film,” Juma Obaid Al Leem, director of media content regulation at the U.A.E.’s National Media Council, said in a statement. “The distributor already made the cut when it came to us. When we asked the distributors, they said they cut all those scenes and words, because they want to distribute the film in the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
A spokesman for Gulf Film LLC in Dubai, which distributes Paramount and Universal films in the Gulf region, didn’t immediately respond to requests seeking comment.
“The Wolf of Wall Street contains muted words, and some scenes have been removed as they were not considered suitable,” according to a notice at cinemas including the Reel Cinemas in Dubai Mall.
The $100 million film is based on the 2007 memoir of Belfort, who spent 22 months in jail for money laundering and securities fraud. It’s earned $97 million at global box offices since its release on Dec. 25, according to BoxOffice.com.
The film garnered mixed reviews in the U.S., with Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern calling it a “hollow spectacle” while the New Yorker’s Richard Brody said it was “like mainlining cinema for three hours, and I wouldn’t have wanted it a minute shorter.”
In the 1990s, Belfort ran a penny-stock boiler room in Long Island, New York with the preppy-sounding name Stratton Oakmont Inc. He used his ill-won gains from “pump and dump” stock manipulations to fill his and his friends’ lives with drugs, prostitutes and naked marching bands.
The Securities and Exchange Commission shut down the firm in 1998. In 2003, Belfort was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail, though he was released early. He now works as a motivational speaker to repay $110.4 million to a victim-compensation fund, which the government says must receive half of his income.
Some disgruntled fans voiced their disappointment on Twitter after seeing the film. “Do not watch Wolf of Wall Street in Dubai cinemas,” one wrote. “They literally butchered the movie to the point it’s unwatchable.”