The success of Hustlers has been great for everyone — for moviegoers happy to see a non-superhero movie top the box office, for Jennifer Lopez, who had her biggest ever opening weekend, and for parent company STX Entertainment, which badly needed a hit. (Moreover, it’s been a boon for Fiona Apple heads.) But as the stripper drama expands around the globe, there’s one place that won’t be adding to its riches: As per the BBC, Malaysia has banned it for “excessive obscene content.”
The movie’s cancellation was announced on Instagram by Square Box Pictures, the company that was its Malaysian distributor. The BBC says Hustler was classified as “not suitable for public screening,” and that there were so many cuts that would have been required that little would be left.
Loosely based on a 2015 New York Magazine piece by journalist Jessica Pressler, Hustlers tells of a gang of erotic dancers who, cash-strapped after the 2008 economic meltdown decimates the wallets of their Wall Street bro regulars, begin scamming wealthy targets out of their dough. Lopez and Constance Wu play the main ringleaders, and there are appearances by Cardi B, Lizzo, and, as himself, Usher.
For the record, there is indeed a lot of adult content, but not as much as there could have been. It’s short on nudity and pervy butt shots that tend to come with the male gaze, which Hustlers — directed by a woman, Lorene Scafaria — noticeably lacks.
The conservative Southeast Asian nation has a storied history of cutting or banning Hollywood product it deems obscene. Rocketman lost a single (and not remotely graphic) scene of gay sex, while the live-action redo of Beauty and the Beast was almost deprived of a brief gay moment only for Disney to refuse the cut. That movie, at least, was released as-is. Hustlers joins other banned-in-Malaysia titles such as Bruno, Fifty Shades of Grey, and The Wolf of Wall Street — august company indeed.