It’s curtains for Disney film releases in Russia as movie giant hits pause after Ukraine invasion

Dawn ChmielewskiReuters
Disney have rewound plans to release movies in Russia, citing the "unprovoked invasion of Ukraine".
Camera IconDisney have rewound plans to release movies in Russia, citing the "unprovoked invasion of Ukraine". Credit: AP

Disney is pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Pixar release Turning Red, citing the “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis”.

Disney is believed to be the first major Hollywood studio to pause theatrical releases in Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

“We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,” Disney said in a statement.

“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.”

Over the weekend, the Ukrainian Film Academy created an online petition that called for an international boycott of Russian cinema and the Russian film industry following the invasion.

Russia is a significant market for Hollywood, accounting for $US601 million ($A828 million) in box office in 2021, or about 2.8 per cent of worldwide ticket sales, which totalled $US21.4 billion ($A29.5 billion) last year, according to Comscore.

Several major films are slated for global release, including Warner Bros’ superhero film The Batman, scheduled to open in Russia on March 3 as part of a worldwide rollout.

Representatives for WarnerMedia did not respond to requests for comment.

Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog 2 makes its global debut on April 8.

One Hollywood trade publication reported studio executives are wrestling with the Russia question, as Western countries enact economic sanctions.

“If the US 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?” one studio executive said to The Hollywood Reporter.

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