Major Hollywood studios halt movie releases in Russia

Mar 1, 2022: According to a report by AP, Major Hollywood studios including Warner Bros, the Walt Disney Co and Sony Pictures say they are pausing release of their films in Russia.

Warner Bros. is blocking the release of The Batman in Russia, just days before it was due to open in theaters there, as Hollywood moved to close the country’s distribution plans after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Warner Bros., the Walt Disney Company, and Sony Pictures said Monday they would “suspend” the release of their films in Russia.

Each studio has important upcoming releases that were set to debut internationally in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for Warner media said, “In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film ‘The Batman’ in Russia,” “we will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Disney said, “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, 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.”

The studio had planned to open the Pixar film Turning Red in Russia on March 10. That film is going straight to Disney+ in the US.

Hollywood moves to scramble plans for Russia, as global pressure mounted to sever ties with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Western economic sanctions devalued the Russian ruble on Monday as several countries moved to block Russian banks. On Saturday, the Ukrainian Film Academy called for an international boycott of the Russian film industry. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) said Monday that it “stands with the international community in upholding the rule of law and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Though Russia is not the top market for Hollywood, it is generally one of the top ten countries in the world at the box office. Sony’s recent hit Spider-Man: Nineway Home, which grossed 1.85bn in worldwide ticket sales, grossed $46.7m in Russia. Sony’s latest chart-topping release, Tom Holland Adventure Uncharted, has raised about ً 20 million in Russia over the past two weeks.

Following the announcements of Disney and Warner Bros., however, Sony has followed suit in announcing plans to suspend its releases in Russia.

“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,’” Sony said in a statement referencing the Spider-Man spinoff opening in early April.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”

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