When determining whether a film is successful or not, there are a few criteria. Critically and artistically, a film can be a success based upon reviews and awards. From a business standpoint, a film is only successful if it brings in more money than was spent to make it. That money comes from a multitude of areas, including ticket sales, DVD/Blu-ray/downloads, rentals, merchandise, and international sales. Sometimes a movie can only be called a success once money comes in from the various countries where the movie plays. So when a country bans a film, it is no small matter.
There are numerous reasons that a movie might be banned throughout an entire country. Vietnam banned The Hunger Games for having “too much death” and The Simpsons Movie was banned in Burma because they do not show the color yellow on screen. Recently, Ghostbusters was banned in China because they do not often allow movies with supernatural themes – like ghosts. And now it looks like another big film may lose a major foreign market. Russia is considering banning Beauty and the Beast.
The reason for the possible banning of the live action Disney remake is the revelation that the character LeFou has what director Bill Condon calls “an explicit gay moment“ in the film. Condon has since downplayed the moment, claiming people are blowing it out of proportion, but a theater in Alabama is refusing to show the film because of the scene. And now according to the BBC, Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky is worried that the scene might be considered illegal, according to Russian law.
While homosexuality has not been illegal in Russia since 1993, in 2013 a law was passed which made it illegal to spread gay propaganda to minors. Beauty and the Beast is a family film specifically made for children, so whether the scene makes the film illegal is up to Medinsky, who explained the process:
“As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution, we will consider it according to the law.”
MP of the governing United Russia party Vitaly Milonov has encouraged Medinsky to screen the movie, and to take the steps needed to ban the film if it has “elements of propaganda of homosexuality.”
If Medinsky decides that the scene violates the law, movie theaters in Russia will not be able to play the film, cutting into the expected profits. As of now, Beauty and the Beast is scheduled to open in Russia on March 16.