In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Disney has decided to take a stand. The company released a statement Monday night explaining that it won’t be releasing its films there for the foreseeable future, beginning with Pixar’s Turning Red. Then, a few hours later, Warner Bros. did the same thing for The Batman.
“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming Turning Red from Pixar,” said a statement released by Disney. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. 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 to refugees.”
Turning Red was set to release in Russia March 10, a day before it’s released in the U.S. However, in the U.S. it’s being released on Disney+ while many international markets were still getting a full theatrical release. After that, Disney has almost a full two months without a theatrical release, the next one coming in May with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That’s then followed by Lightyear in June and Thor: Love and Thunder in July.
Disney was the first studio to take such a stance in Russia and then, a few hours later, Warner Bros. joined in. The company announced Monday evening its release of The Batman would not be happening in Russia. “In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a WarnerMedia statement read. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
These gestures are powerful but ultimately, not a huge loss monetarily. Variety reports even a huge hit in Russia is usually only a small percentage of what a film grosses overseas. For example, Spider-Man: No Way Home was a massive hit there, grossing about $45 million. However, that’s a mere fraction of the film’s total international gross to date, which is almost $1.1 billion.
Nevertheless, the optics of these moves and the strong support of Ukraine it shows is surely more important than whatever money may or may not be made on future films. Nice work by Mickey Mouse and the Caped Crusader
Update 2/28/2022, 9:39 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to add Warner Bros. decision to hold The Batman.
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