Disney Halts Russian Release of Movies, Starting With Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’

Walt Disney Co. will delay the release of its films in Russian movie theaters in response to Moscow’s “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis” accompanying it, the company said Tuesday.

Disney currently has three films scheduled for release in Russia—“Turning Red,” which was set to come out March 10, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” scheduled for May 5, and “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” scheduled for May 26. The world’s biggest entertainment company said it would make future decisions based on the evolving situation.

Russia’s market represents a tiny sliver of Disney’s business and a small fraction of world-wide cinematic box office receipts: in 2021—which was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic—films grossed around $340 million in the country. In the U.S., by contrast, total box office receipts were about $4.5 billion last year.

Since the beginning of 2022, two of the four top-grossing movies in Russia were produced by Disney: “Nightmare Alley,” which earned around $5 million, and “The King’s Man,” which earned nearly $14 million, according to BoxOfficeMojo.

Hollywood studios have been under pressure from activists sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause to pull their business from Russia since the invasion began. Last week, the Ukrainian Film Academy circulated an online petition calling for an international boycott of Russia by producers, distributors and film festivals.

Other corners of the American entertainment industry have cut ties with Russia since the invasion. The rock band Green Day canceled a concert scheduled for the end of May in Moscow, and the venue development and investment firm Oak View Group said it was severing all connections to Russia, even down to the Russian alcohol it served in its buildings.

On Sunday, Oleg Berezin, chairman of the Russian Federation’s Association of Cinema Owners, a film industry association that has close ties to Russia’s Ministry of Culture, resigned over his opposition to the war.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Berezin said that in his role as chairman, he participates in working groups that discuss a range of issues, including tax breaks for exhibitors and government support for Russian film studios.

“I don’t want to have any conversations with the government, I don’t want to support them. My decision is the only way I have to indicate I’m against the war,” Mr. Berezin said.

The current top-grossing film in Russia is Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “Uncharted,” an action film starring Tom Holland, which has grossed nearly $20 million over the last two weeks in the country. Sony representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment about whether they would change distribution plans for any of their films.

Other major studios, including Paramount Pictures, MGM and Universal Pictures also didn’t reply to requests for comment. Warner Bros. intends to move forward with the opening of the much-anticipated movie “The Batman” in Russia later this week, a person familiar with the situation said.

—Joe Flint contributed to this report.

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Disney Halts Russian Release of Movies, Starting With Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’