Studio executives across Hollywood are debating whether to pull their forthcoming releases from Russia because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian box office has been fertile ground for Hollywood event images for years, including the current Sony blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Homewho has earned $44.5 million there to date.
So far, the major Hollywood studios have dismissed all official comments on the invasion of Ukraine. The Motion Picture Association has not yet commented either.
But behind the scenes there is much debate about what will happen if Russia does not withdraw. A studio executive says, “If the US and its allies want to cut Russia off from the rest of the world, how would we go about releasing our films there?” promote films?”
Previously Warner Bros.’ superhero film The Batman scheduled to open in Russia on March 3 as part of global rollout (official opening in North America on March 4).
Box office sources say it might be difficult to pull an 11 hour movie out of Russia. Over the Feb. 25-27 weekend, for example, both Joe Wright Cyrano and Paramount’s The Godfather 50th Anniversary opened in Russia while Kenneth Branagh’s survives Death on the Nile and Sony’s Unexplored stayed at the top of the Russian box office charts.
Studio sources add that cinemas in Russia are privately owned and not controlled by Vladimir Putin’s government. However, many of the media advertising platforms are state-owned.
Upcoming Hollywood event images include those from Paramount Lost City and Sonic the Hedgehog 2along with the next installments in the Fantastic Beasts and Doctor Strange Franchise. Sony has too disease.
Hollywood studios are likely to be affected by the European Union’s decision over the weekend to ban Russia from the global banking system, SWIFT. Without SWIFT, studios may not be able to recover money from their Russian distributors.
Also over the weekend, the Ukrainian Film Academy called for an international boycott of Russian cinema and the Russian film industry following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine earlier this week.
In an online petition, the Academy called on producers to stop licensing their films and series for Russia, to withdraw international festivals for Russian films from their programs and to terminate international producers from deals with Russian companies.
“We urge you to terminate all contracts with them,” the petition reads. “Remember that the company using your films pays taxes to the Russian budget, which funds the army that violates the borders of an independent state and buys missiles to bomb Europe’s civilian population.”
Western governments, including the US, the European Union, Britain and Canada, have announced sweeping economic sanctions, including one by Putin himself and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
There were also cultural sanctions: the European Broadcasting Union on Friday banned Russia from participating in its hugely popular Eurovision Song Contest following the invasion of Ukraine, European football’s governing body UEFA moved the Champions League final from St. Petersburg to Paris in protest, and the Formula 1 racing association is canceling a planned race in Russia in September.