Disney has addressed why “Beauty and the Beast” has been pulled from opening in Malaysia.
On Tuesday, TheWrap reported that Disney shelved the release of its live-action remake in mainly Muslim Malaysia despite the Film Censorship Board approving the film with a minor cut involving a “gay moment.” According to the Associated Press, the country’s two main cinema chains said the movie has been postponed indefinitely, but no reason was given.
Disney cleared that up on Wednesday. In a statement obtained by TheWrap, Disney said: “The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia.”
Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid initially said he had no idea why the film was shelved, given that it was approved by the board after a minor gay scene was cut from the film. Scenes “promoting sexuality were forbidden,” he said. The film was given a PG13 rating, he said, which requires parental guidance for children under 13 years of age. Sex between men is illegal in the country.
It’s unclear if Disney will forgo a Malaysia release entirely.
While Malaysia is a growing market, the country hasn’t had a sizable impact on the overall foreign box office of previous Disney live-action films. “The Jungle Book” tallied $5.7 million in Malaysia out of a $602 million foreign total. “Maleficent” made $6.2 million in the country — internationally it did $517 million. And Malaysia’s total for “Cinderella” only contributed $4.5 million to its $342.4 million international haul.
Earlier this month, director Bill Condon told Attitude Magazine that the movie would feature an “exclusively gay moment” involving Josh Gad’s character, LeFou, the buddy of vain villain Gaston (Luke Evans).
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told the magazine. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
In response, an Alabama movie theater decided to pull its scheduled screenings of Disney’s live-action remake because of the film’s inclusion of a “homosexual character.”
In Russia, the film received an age restriction, meaning people under the age of 16 will not be able to go see the movie in theaters without being accompanied by an adult.
This came three days after Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the United Russia party, asked the country’s culture minister to screen the film prior to its March 16 Russian release and to “take measures to totally ban” it if the film contains “elements of propaganda of homosexuality.”