On Friday, WDSSPR, the Russian distributor of Power Rangers, informed theaters that the age restriction for the movie has been changed from 16+ to 18+, meaning that only viewers over 18 will be admitted to the screenings.
The distributor provided no explanation for assigning the stricter age restriction, but it followed harsh criticism from several legislators over the movie’s LGBTQ content.
On Thursday, hard-line legislator Vitaly Milonov criticized the movie and called for banning it, speaking on the air of conservative television network Tsargrad.
Milonov, who penned a controversial law “against gay propaganda among minors” several years ago, said he was outraged by the presence of a LGBTQ superhero character in Power Rangers.
“If fascist ideology is banned in our country, then [movies by] the likes of Dean Israelite should be banned first thing,” he said, adding that Israelite was “a scumbag” and comparing the movie to bombs planted by terrorists inside children’s toys.
Another legislator, Alexei Zhuravlev, harshly criticized the Culture Ministry for issuing an exhibition license for Power Rangers.
“Some officials [at the Culture Ministry] don’t want to observe laws adopted by the State Duma [lower chamber of Russian Parliament], specifically the law banning gay propaganda among minors,” he told Tsargrad.
Two weeks earlier, Milonov called on the Culture Ministry to apply extra scrutiny to Beauty and the Beast over its gay content, which resulted in a 16+ age restriction — highly atypical for a Disney movie in Russia.
Meanwhile, viewers who attended a screening of Power Rangers at a theater in North Moscow on Thursday night were totally unaware of the controversy and saw no reason for banning the movie. None of about three dozen people in the theater walked out.
“She is cool, and I don’t care whether she is gay or not,” Anastasia, an 18-year-old university student, told The Hollywood Reporter, referring to the Yellow Ranger, Trini.
“It makes no difference to me what she is as the movie was pretty dumb anyway,” added another moviegoer, 26-year-old Nikolai.
Meanwhile, Power Rangers‘ opening night box-office performance was lackluster. It grossed only 7 million rubles ($121,000), according to trade journal Exhibitor’s Bulletin, trailing far behind Boss Baby and Life.