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1 Mar, 2022 04:55

Disney, Warner Bros & Sony halt movie releases in Russia

The film production giants said the moves were in response to Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine
Disney, Warner Bros & Sony halt movie releases in Russia

Disney, Warner Bros and Sony have each vowed to keep upcoming films out of Russian theaters, accusing Moscow of an “unprovoked invasion” of Ukraine as a long list of Western states and institutions retaliate with penalties of their own.

The Walt Disney Company announced the decision on Monday, saying it would halt future releases in Russia in reaction to its ongoing military operation.

“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,” the company said, adding that its “future business decisions” will be “based on the evolving situation.”

Disney also noted that it would work with partnered NGOs to provide “urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”

Warner Bros later made a similar move “in light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” though it appears the company’s response was more limited and only applied to the upcoming film ‘The Batman.’

“We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy,” it added.

Sony was the latest studio to pull content from the Russian market, with a company spokesperson saying late on Monday that, like Disney, it would pause all theatrical releases in the country “given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region.”

Earlier, the Motion Picture Association – a trade org that represents the largest film production outfits, including Disney, Warner Bros and Sony – issued a statement “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,” it said.

The production houses’ latest actions come after the Ukrainian Film Academy urged for an international boycott of the Russian film industry over the weekend – all as Western governments impose a raft of harsh sanctions on senior Russian officials, lawmakers, financial institutions and other businesses, and even media figures in retaliation for the Ukraine incursion.

President Vladimir Putin announced what he called a “special military operation” in Ukraine last Thursday, aiming for the complete “demilitarization” and “denazification” of the country, and made a pledge to prosecute those who were involved in “numerous bloody crimes against civilians.”

Kiev, however, insists the attack was “unprovoked,” claiming it has had no plans to retake the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk by force. They split from Ukraine back in 2014 following the Maidan coup in Kiev, and endured years of low-intensity warfare that left thousands of people dead.