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Disney has become the first major Hollywood studio to pause its releases at the Russian box office in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red from Pixar,” a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson said in a statement. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”
Turning Red had been slated to open March 10 in Russia, which has been fertile ground for recent Hollywood event films, including Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. The film has pulled in more than $44.5 million to date in the country. Disney’s other upcoming releases that were slated to bow in Russia include Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 5) and Lightyear (June 16).
After the initial publication of this story, WarnerMedia pulled The Batman from its upcoming release in Russia. Sony followed suit in the early evening hours of Monday and said it wouldn’t release Jared Leto’s Morbius in Russia in late March.
Over the weekend, one studio executive told THR: “If the U.S. and its allies want to cut off Russia from the rest of the world, then how would we go ahead and release our movies there?” Another executive added: “How can anyone advertise their movies on state-owned media right now in Russia?”
Hollywood studios are likely to be impacted by the decision of the European Union over the weekend to eject Russia from the global interbank messaging system SWIFT. Without SWIFT, studios may not be able to get any money back from their Russian distribution partners.
On Monday evening, the Motion Picture Association issued its first statement regarding the invasion. “The MPA stands with the international community in upholding the rule of law and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On behalf of our member companies, who lead the film, TV and streaming industry, we express our strongest support for Ukraine’s vibrant creative community who, like all people, deserve to live and work peacefully,” read the statement.
On Tuesday, after the Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony moves, Paramount paused its upcoming Russia releases, including Sonic 2 and The Lost City.
Feb. 28, 6:45 p.m Updated to note The Batman’s Russia release has been pulled.
Feb. 28, 6:54 p.m. Updated with the MPA statement.
Feb. 28: 7:54 p.m. Updated with news of Sony pulling Morbius.
March 1, 7:19 a.m. Updated with Paramount pausing its upcoming releases in Russia.
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