A week after Disney paused the Russian theatrical releases in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Disney said Thursday that is “taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia” as the fighting intensifies.
It becomes the latest company to pull out of doing business in Russia since the invasion began two weeks ago.
Disney chief Bob Chapek has been staking out some hard ground in this issue. Early last week, Warner Bros expected to open The Batman in Russia, and all studios were dealing with the MPAA to formulate a position. Disney struck first, and other studios followed suit and pulled movies in a symbolic gesture.
Following on remarks from March 7 by Chapek praising ABC News journalists working in the besieged Eastern European nation, the statement today said Disney content and product licensing, its cruise line activities, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content productions and linear channels will be impacted
“Some of those business activities we can and will pause immediately,” Disney said. “Others—such as linear channels and some content and product licensing—will take time given contractual complexities.”
Disney was the first of the major Hollywood studios to halt its theatrical releases in Russia after the invasion, doing so on February 28. The Russian theatrical market grossed $445 million at the box office last year and as much as $1.3 billion in 2013 (per Box Office Mojo). On the movie side, Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to kick off summer on May 6. The most recent MCU title, Spider-Man: No Way Home from Sony, grossed close to $45M in Russia.
Today’s focus shifting statement comes less than 24 hours after Disney and Chapek faced renewed blowback, internal and external, for their continued stumbling response to Florida’s controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Here’s Disney’s full statement of today:
“Last week, after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, we announced that we were pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia and reviewing the rest of our businesses there.
Given the unrelenting assault on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis, we are taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia. This includes content and product licensing, Disney Cruise Line activities, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content productions and linear channels.
Some of those business activities we can and will pause immediately. Others—such as linear channels and some content and product licensing—will take time given contractual complexities.
Even as we pause these businesses, we remain committed to our dedicated colleagues in Russia, who will remain employed. And we continue to work with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other much-needed assistance to refugees.”
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