It looks like Beauty And The Beast will have a happy ending in Malaysia after all. The country’s largest cinema chain, Golden Screen Cinemas, tweeted today that the film will be released on March 30 with no cuts and rated PG-13. The news comes after the local censor sought over four minutes of edits “involving a gay moment” which Disney refused. The Mouse postponed the release last week saying the film “has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia.”
The movie was then submitted to the Film Appeals Committee, a separate body to the censorship board, which has the power to reverse the board’s decision. It was known that the Committee was screening the film today. There has been no official confirmation from Disney Malaysia, although Golden Screen Cinemas also wrote on its Facebook page, “This is official from Disney. No cuts. PG13. 30 March. GET YOURSELF READY!” Deadline has reached out.
The film’s delay in Malaysia arose when censors objected to what’s been referred to as a “gay moment”: Josh Gad’s portrayal of LeFou as smitten with the handsome cad Gaston (Luke Evans). Sex between men is illegal in Malaysia. On screen, gay characters are allowed to be depicted, but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.
Censorship board Chairman Abdul Halim told the New Sunday Times over the weekend, “Malaysia does not recognize the LGBT ideology. So we have to be extra cautious in our work. We have our responsibilities to the country, the people and our constitution. If we let these scenes pass, people will wonder if Malaysia recognizes LGBT.”
The controversy did nothing to stop the film’s juggernaut launch elsewhere this weekend. BATB had a massive opening with $182.3M at the international box office, and $357.1M globally.
Given the anticipation for the film in Malaysia, Halim allowed there had been upset locally that it wasn’t being released on March 16 as expected. Fans on social media were clearly elated by the reversal today.
TGV Cinemas also spread the word