Highly anticipated movie “Lightyear” will not be released in two international territories. Here’s why the latest movie in the Toy Story franchise won’t be included there.
What Happened: Walt Disney Co DIS movie “Lightyear” will not be released in Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The reason for the ban is related to a kiss in the movie featuring two same-sex characters. The scene was originally cut from the movie but reinstated after employees of Pixar complained of censorship.
Other Disney titles including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “West Side Story” and “Eternals” have been blocked in several Gulf territories due to LGBT scenes. Homosexuality is illegal in many portions of the Gulf region, which has led to strong censorship of any LGBT content in media.
The United Arab Emirates said the ban was for “violation of the country’s media content standards.”
Why It’s Important: The announced ban comes during the week the Toy Story origin movie is scheduled to be released in theaters. “Lightyear” tells the story of Buzz Lightyear, who is the basis of the toy featured in the Toy Story franchise.
The movie is highly anticipated and was recently singled out as a reason for excitement for the 2022 theatrical release lineup by AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc AMC CEO Adam Aron.
Aron called the 2022 lineup “very exciting” while highlighting “Lightyear” and several other movies including several Disney titles.
The territories that have banned “Lightyear” aren’t the largest in the world, but are among some of the faster-growing international movie markets.
“The Batman” from Warner Bros Discovery Inc WBD was released in Saudi Arabia earlier this year and grossed $2.6 million on two consecutive weekends.
In the United Arab Emirates, several movies including “The Batman,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Morbius” and “Uncharted” all enjoyed weekends of more than $1 million at the box office. The recently released “Top Gun: Maverick” from Paramount Global PARAPARAA grossed $2 million in the country in its opening weekend.
The 2019 title “Toy Story 4,” which was the most recent in the Pixar franchise, grossed $434 million domestically and $639.4 million internationally. The title was released in the United Arab Emirates, where it grossed $4.56 million, the seventh biggest total for the European, Middle East and Africa region. The movie was not released in Saudi Arabia.
“Lightyear” is expected to be a box office success for Disney but also faces off against Comcast Corporation CMCSA title “Jurassic World: Dominion” in its second week at theaters and will only be available in theaters for three weeks before another potential animated hit, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” is released.
Price Action: Disney shares are down 3.42% to $96.02 on Monday, on the lower end of its 52-week range of $94.83 to $187.58.
Photo: "Lightyear" from Disney
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