Ever since it was announced that Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast would feature an outwardly gay character, the film has been no stranger to controversy. Now, theaters in Kuwait have pulled the movie as a result of the gay content, AOL reports.
Screenings of the remake of the Disney classic were already underway in the Middle Eastern country when the Kuwait National Cinema Company decided to suddenly pull the movie from theaters. The National Cinema Company attributed the cancellation to unforeseen circumstances. An edited version of the movie could possibly return to local theaters.
Director Bill Condon announced before the film’s premiere that it would feature Disney’s first gay character in a “nice, exclusively gay moment.” In the movie, Josh Gad plays LeFou, sidekick to villain Gaston. He is depicted as having a crush on Gaston and, in one scene, is shown holding hands with another man for a few seconds. Although homosexuality is not illegal in Kuwait, LGBT people can face jail time for “debauchery.”
Kuwait is not the only country to challenge screenings of the Disney movie. Malaysian cinemas initially wanted to censor the homosexual content from the film before releasing it to local cinemas. Disney, however, threatened to pull the movie from the country if it were to be censored.
Censors wished to cut three specific scenes from the Disney movie, including one “during the performance of a song where a male character (Josh Gad’s LeFou) hugs the other (Luke Evans’ Gaston) from behind. Second is the suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos, and the third is a scene that takes place at the end of the movie.” The Independent reports, however, that Beauty and the Beast will be shown in Malaysia without any changes to the film’s content, albeit with a PG-13 rating.
Government officials say an appeals committee determined that those scenes weren’t offensive. Malaysian theater chain Golden Screen Cinemas announced on Twitter that Beauty and the Beast would be shown in full in theaters without cuts. Gay sex is considered an imprisonable offense in Malaysia. Censors typically only allow gay characters to be depicted in movies if they are shown in a negative light.
Beauty and the Beast also faced challenges in Russia when it was announced that the Disney remake would include a gay character. But despite receiving a 16+ rating, the movie has been a success at the Russian box office, SF Gate reports. Some in the country had also called for bans of the “gay propaganda” movie, but Beauty and the Beast has managed to pull in $6 million in Russia.
At least one American movie theater has also canceled screenings of the movie as a result of the gay character. Shortly after Bill Condon’s announcement that LeFou would be depicted as gay, Alabama’s Henagar Drive-In Theatre announced it would remove Beauty and the Beast from its line-up because of the homosexual content, according to CNN. In a lengthy Facebook post, the theater detailed its issues with the content of the Disney remake. The Facebook post was later removed.
Beauty and the Beast has still been a box-office hit in the United States and around the world despite the backlash against the homosexual content. In total, the movie has earned $180 million oversees and broke box office records in countries such as Croatia and Finland. Beauty and the Beast, which stars British actors Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, also made $22.8 million in U.K. cinemas, where it received a PG rating. In the United States, Beauty and the Beast has already earned $174 million, giving it one of the top 10 opening weekends of all time.
[Featured image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]