4:15am PT by Patrick Brzeski
Malaysia Will Not Censor 'Power Rangers' Because of Gay Character
Lionsgate's Power Rangers — the first big-budget superhero movie to feature an LGBT protagonist — received the green light Wednesday for a wide release in Malaysia.
The film will open in the country Thursday — without cuts — and tickets are now on sale, local theater chains report. The ruling comes one day after the Southeast Asian country overturned an earlier decision to censor Disney's Beauty and the Beast because of a brief "gay moment" in the film.
Both Power Rangers and Beauty and the Beast have been given PG-13 ratings in Malaysia (Beauty is rated PG in the U.S., while Power Rangers is PG-13 there, too), but that's uncharacteristically mild for the Muslim-majority nation, which has strict laws against homosexuality. According to local rules, gay characters are allowed to be depicted onscreen only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.
After the controversy surrounding the Disney film, many local industry insiders speculated that the Lionsgate reboot would be the next film to suffer censorship.
During Power Rangers' second act, there's a scene in which the titular heroes learn that the Yellow Ranger, Trini (Becky G), is coming to terms with her sexual orientation, with one character assuming she's having "boyfriend problems," and soon realizing that perhaps she's actually having "girlfriend problems." It's a small moment, but one the film's director, Dean Israelite, has called "pivotal" for the entire film (here's why).
It's not clear whether the Malaysian authorities were cowed into reconsidering their policies after the wave of international media attention that followed the Beauty and the Beast imbroglio.
Beauty and the Beast is now set to open in Malaysia on March 30, without cuts.