February 28, 2022
With the Russian army’s unprovoked military invasion into democratically controlled Ukraine intensifying, The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures reportedly plan to halt releasing new theatrical releases in Russia going forward. The decision impacts the pending Pixar Animation release Turning Red, which is set to bow on the Disney+ streaming platform in the U.S., but in theaters in regions like Russia that does not yet have the SVOD service.
The studios’ Feb. 28 action follows economic sanctions imposed by Western countries, companies and the European Union in response to the escalating global crisis after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into neighboring Ukraine.
“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia,” Disney said in a media statement.
The company said that future business decisions would be based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, Disney said that given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, it is working with non-government partners to provide aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.
Separately, Warner Bros. Pictures’ parent company WarnerMedia said it would halt releasing this weekend’s The Batman in Russian theaters.
“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
Sony Pictures joined the growing Hollywood bandwagon announcing that pending release Morbius would not be released in Russian theaters. The decision has impact considering that the studio’s previous release, Spider-Man: No Way Home, generated a reported $45 million at the Russian box office.
“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia,” Sony said in a media statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”
Over the weekend, Google-owned YouTube and Facebook announced they would block Russian state media outlet RT and other pro-Russian channels from their platforms. Netflix said it would skip streaming 20 free-to-air channels despite Russian regulator Roskomnadzor mandating that any foreign service with more than 100,000 subscribers do so.
“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” Netflix said in a statement.