LOS ANGELES, March 15 — Walt Disney Co indefinitely pulled Beauty and the Beast from theaters in Malaysia rather than remove scenes involving a gay character to placate local authorities.
“The film has not been and will not be cut for Malaysia,” Disney said in an emailed statement.
Golden Screen Cinemas, Malaysia’s largest theater chain, said Monday it postponed showings of Beauty and the Beast at the studio’s request. Golden Screen will offer refunds to patrons who purchased advance tickets to screenings and a related event, the company said on its website.
Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board approved Beauty and the Beast for a P13 rating after requesting cuts of about 4 1/2 minutes from a subplot with a “gay moment,” Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, the film board chairman, said in a text message. Theaters can screen the film at any time after the deletions, he said. A P13 rating requires those below 13 years of age to be accompanied by a guardian.
The film, which opens March 17, could take in as much as US$120 million (RM533.9 million) its first weekend in US and Canadian theaters, Disney said in a separate statement. The movie cost about US$160 million to make.
Beauty and the Beast, a remake of the 1991 animated musical, includes what director Bill Condon called an “exclusively gay moment” in an interview earlier this month with Attitude Magazine. The character LeFou, the sidekick to the bad guy Gaston, makes references to his affection for Gaston in the film and later dances with a man at a ball.
Malaysia has laws against homosexuality. The country isn’t among the 20 largest film markets in the world, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Russia earlier this month approved the release of Beauty and the Beast with a suggested audience of those 16 years and older. Children younger than that can attend with an adult.
Variety earlier reported on the Malaysian decision. — Bloomberg