According to Insider, former staffers at the Disney-acquired—and then shuttered—studio Blue Sky were pressured into censoring a same-sex kiss in their animated adaptation of Nimona. The staffers took kiss out of future presentations with Disney executives, although they state that they hoped to include it in the final film. According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the movie was almost “75%” complete when Disney decided to scrap the entire project.
Nimona was originally published as a webcomic by ND Stevenson, a queer, transgender writer. He began writing it in 2012, while still a student at MICA, and it was submitted as his final thesis. The fantasy comic’s titular character, Nimona, is a shape-shifter who follows around a knight and attempts to bring down a corrupt institution. The comic was acquired by Harper Teen and published as a graphic novel, and proceeded to win an Eisner award in 2016. Nimona features a queer and gender non-conforming cast, and has roots in Stevenson’s own experiences. Nimona herself is considered gender non-conforming.
Blue Sky studios, a division of Fox, was well-known for the Ice Age films. When Disney inherited the studio in 2019, however, there were reportedly clashes between leadership at the studio and Disney. According to Insider, Disney executives pushed back against the queer characters and themes present in the movie in 2020. Disney ultimately shut down the studio in February of 2021, and Nimona, despite already having a 2022 release date and being near completion, was canceled.
While Disney has started taking steps towards more racially representative stories and films, its track record for queer representation is basically non-existent. Considering the controversy it now finds itself surrounded by through virtue of proximity to Florida’s near-universally derided “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, this news comes as no surprise. What’s particularly sad about this revelation is that in Nimona, there was a chance for a queer creator to have openly queer characters on screen, and make a huge impact in the cultural consciousness. Instead we have an unfinished film languishing in production hell, and have unearthed more violence against queer existence in media at the hands of one of the biggest movie studios on the planet. Safe to say that Disney probably isn’t the happiest place on earth anymore.
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