Disney/Pixar EXCLUSIVE ‘Lightyear’ Starring Same-Sex Couple Won’t Play In 14 Countries; China in question

LOS ANGELES, June 13 (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) has been unable to secure permission to show its new Pixar film “Lightyear” in 14 countries across the Middle East and Asia , a source said on Monday, and the anime film seemed unlikely to open in China, the world’s biggest film market.

A “Lightyear” producer told Reuters that Chinese authorities had requested cuts to the film, which Disney refused to do, and she assumed the film would not open there either. The animated film features a same-sex couple sharing a brief kiss, prompting the United Arab Emirates to ban the film.

The United Arab Emirates said the couple’s relationship violated the country’s media content standards. read more Homosexuality is considered a crime in many Middle Eastern countries.

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Representatives of other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia and Lebanon, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on why they would not allow the screening of the film.

“Lightyear” is a prequel to Pixar’s popular “Toy Story” franchise. Chris Evans voices the main character, Buzz Lightyear, a legendary space ranger.

In the film, Buzz’s close friend is a female space guard who marries another woman. A scene showing the couple’s relationship milestones includes a brief kiss.

Disney has not received a response from Chinese authorities as to whether they will allow the film in theaters, “Lightyear” producer Galyn Susman said. But she said the filmmakers would not make changes to the film. China has rejected other on-screen depictions of homosexuality in the past.

“We’re not going to cut anything, especially something as important as the loving and inspiring relationship that shows Buzz what he’s missing through the choices he makes, so it won’t be cut,” Susman said. to Reuters on the film’s red carpet. premiere in London.

China is not a “make-or-break” market for Pixar, a movie industry source said. It contributed just 3% to the global box office of “Toy Story 4,” which grossed more than $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide in 2019, according to Comscore.

Any objection to “Lightyear” over LGBTQ issues was “frustrating,” Evans said.

“It’s great that we’re part of something that’s advancing social inclusion capacity, but it’s frustrating that there are still places that aren’t where they should be,” Evans said.

“Lightyear” is set to debut in theaters in the United States and Canada on Friday.

In May, Disney denied requests to remove homosexual references from the Marvel movie “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Saudi Arabia and a handful of other Middle Eastern countries did not show the film.

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Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Dawn Chmielewski; Additional reporting by Kristian Brunse in London; Editing by Richard Chang

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