Disney is pausing all theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming Pixar film Turning Red, citing the “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis.”
“We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation,” Disney said Monday. “In the meantime, given the scale of the looming refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to deliver urgent relief and other humanitarian assistance.”
Turning Red, a family film about a girl who gets excited and turns into a red panda, was scheduled to premiere on March 10 in Russia.
Several big films are set to be released worldwide soon, including The Warner Bros. superhero film The Batman, which was due to be shown in Russia on Friday. Hours after Disney’s decision was announced, Warner Bros. said: “Due to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia. We will continue to monitor the development of the situation. We hope for a speedy and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
Following Disney and Warner Bros., Sony Pictures announced it would also pause its theatrical releases in Russia, including Morbius, which stars Jared Leto as the Marvel anti-hero and is set to open March 24.
“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting insecurity and humanitarian crisis in that region, we will pause our scheduled theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius,” a Sony Pictures spokesman said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected and we hope that this crisis will be resolved quickly.”
Other Warner Bros films due out soon in Russia include Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore on April 14 and the animated DC League of Super-Pets on May 19.
The news comes as Netflix confirmed it would refuse to air Russian state propaganda in light of a law coming into force in the country on March 1.
The law requires streaming services with more than 100,000 daily users to broadcast 20 major Russian federal TV channels, many of which air Kremlin propaganda.
“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” a Netflix spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. Netflix declined to comment on whether the war has affected its expansion plans in Russia.
Over the weekend, the Ukrainian Film Academy created an online petition calling for an international boycott of Russian cinema and the Russian film industry after the invasion.
While not a key market for Hollywood releases, Russia is significant enough, accounting for $601 million in box office sales in 2021, according to Comscore, or about 2.8% of global ticket sales, totaling $21.4 billion -dollars totaled.
Over the past decade, Disney has increasingly appealed to Russian audiences with films produced for the local market, with Disney Russia releasing The Last Warrior: A Messenger of Darkness in December. The third film in a popular fantasy series became the ninth highest-grossing release of all time in Russia in the local language.
The Hollywood Reporter previously reported that several studio executives are grappling with the Russia issue while the US and its European allies impose economic sanctions. “If the US and its allies want to cut off Russia from the rest of the world, how would we go about releasing our films there?” said a studio head at the outlet.
Reuters contributed to this report