Hollywood halts Russian releases, including ‘The Batman’

NEW YORK (AP) — Warner Bros. halts release of ‘The Batman’ in Russia, just days before it opens in theaters there, as Hollywood decides to end distribution plans in the country following Vladimir’s invasion of Ukraine Putin.

Warner Bros., Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures announced on Monday that they will “suspend” the release of their films in Russia. Each studio has major upcoming releases that were set to debut internationally in the coming weeks. “The Batman,” one of the most anticipated films of the year, opens Friday in North America and numerous overseas territories, including Russia.

“Given the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is suspending the release of its feature film ‘The Batman’ in Russia,” a studio spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops. We hope for a quick and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.

The decision by Warner Bros. closely followed a similar move Monday by the Walt Disney Co. The studio had planned to open the Pixar movie “Turning Red” in Russia on March 10. This film will go directly to Disney+ in the United States. Prior to Disney’s announcement, it was expected that Warner Bros. releases “The Batman” in Russia.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are suspending the theatrical release of films in Russia, including Pixar’s upcoming ‘Turning Red’,” a spokesperson said. Disney in a statement. “We will make future business decisions as the situation evolves. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide emergency assistance and other forms of humanitarian assistance to refugees.

Hollywood scrambled its plans in Russia on Monday night as global pressure mounted to sever business ties with the country over the war in Ukraine. Western economic sanctions sent the Russian ruble plummeting on Monday as many countries sought to block Russian banks. On Saturday, the Ukrainian Film Academy called for an international boycott of the Russian film industry.

The Motion Picture Association said on Monday that it “stands with the international community in defending the rule of law and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“On behalf of our member companies, who lead the film, television and streaming industry, we express our strongest support for Ukraine’s vibrant creative community which, like everyone else, deserves to live and work in peace,” the MPA said in a statement.

Russia is not a top market for Hollywood, but the country generally ranks among the top twelve countries in the world at the box office. Sony’s recent hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which grossed $1.85 billion in ticket sales worldwide, grossed $46.7 million in Russia. Sony’s most recent chart-topping release, Tom Holland’s adventure “Uncharted,” has raked in an estimated $20 million in Russia over the past two weeks.

After Disney and Warner Bros. made their announcements, Sony followed suit.

“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis in that region, we will be suspending our planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of ‘Morbius,'” Sony said in a statement referring to the Spider-Man spin-off slated for early April. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been affected and hope this crisis is resolved quickly.”


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