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Warner Bros. has pulled The Batman from its Russian release calendar at the eleventh hour. The decision comes as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine and follows Disney’s move to pause its upcoming releases in the country.
“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a WarnerMedia spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, was to open on March 3 in Russia as part of the film’s global rollout. Other upcoming Warner Bros. films slated for release in Russia include Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (April 14) and the animated DC League of Super-Pets (May 19).
Russia is among the top global box office markets and is lucrative territory for Hollywood releases, with Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home earning more than $44.5 million to date since opening in December. Over the Feb. 25-27 weekend, the first since Russia launched an unprovoked attack against Ukraine, a number of Hollywood releases opened in Russia, including Joe Wright’s Cyrano and Paramount’s The Godfather: 50 Years. Holdovers included Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile and Sony’s Uncharted.
The decision whether to continue to open films in Russia sparked conversation behind closed doors in Hollywood throughout the weekend. As of late Sunday, Warners was still intending to release The Batman there, but fast-evolving events saw those plans shift.
On Monday afternoon, Disney became the first major Hollywood studio to say it was hitting the pause button on opening its movies in Russia.
“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.”
Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red had been slated to open March 10 in Russia. WarnerMedia’s statement regarding The Batman quickly followed Disney’s announcement.
Soon after, the Motion Picture Association — the major lobbying arm for the major studios and Netflix — issued its first comment on the invasion.
“The Motion Picture Association 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,” the MPA statement said. “We will continue to monitor the situation, working closely with our members and partners throughout the global creative sector.”
Sony followed within the hour with its own announcement that it won’t release Morbius in Russia next month. Jared Leto’s Morbius, which is part of Sony’s shared universe based on characters from Marvel’s Spider-Man comic, was due out March 24 in the country.
“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius,” a Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesperson said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”
The flurry of announcements by Hollywood studios on Monday followed the European Union’s decision 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 Tuesday, after the Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony moves, Paramount paused its upcoming Russia releases, including Sonic 2 and The Lost City.
Feb. 28, 6:54 p.m. Updated with the MPA statement.
Feb. 28: 7:54 p.m. Updated with Sony pulling Morbius.
March 1, 7:19 a.m. Updated with Paramount pausing its upcoming releases in Russia.
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