UPDATED, 2:08 PM: A Russian government official today laid to rest the possibility of his country banning Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast under its anti-“gay propaganda” law. The film has gotten the go-ahead from local officials. “We will issue the film distribution license without any problems. The minimum age is 16+,” Vyacheslav Telnov, who heads the Culture Ministry’s film unit, told Russian entertainment site KinoPoisk.ru. That is a higher age rating than films for kids and families usually receive. Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing (WDSSPR) has not commented because they have not yet received the document. Read more details below.
PREVIOUSLY, May 4: The BBC is reporting that Russian officials could ban Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast under the country’s anti-“gay propaganda” law. According to BBC News, Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the United Russia party, is urging Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to screen the film for compliance with the anti-gay law.
The Disney film is set for a March 16 release in Russia. Deadline has not independently verified the BBC report; Disney has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Bill Condon’s Beauty remake portrays Josh Gad’s LeFou character as smitten with the handsome cad Gaston. (See Gad performing the song “Gaston” above).
Here’s how Deadline critic Pete Hammond described the character:
“The villain of the piece is the dashing but devious Gaston (Luke Evans), who pursues Belle relentlessly, accompanied by Le Fou (Josh Gad), his sidekick who seems to be more interested in Gaston than Belle would ever be. Le Fou is said to be Disney’s first gay character — and already stirring a bit of controversy in Alabama — but the inference is not overt and lands more into bromance territory than anything else.”
Yesterday, a Christian-owned drive-in theater in Alabama announced that it would not show the new movie.
According to the BBC, Milonov has asked Medinsky to review the film and “take measures to totally ban” it if Beauty contains “elements of propaganda of homosexuality.”
“As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution, we will consider it according to the law,” the BBC reported Medinsky saying.