While Disney's live-action remake of their classic animated movie Beauty and the Beast is poised to be a box office monster this March, those in Russia may be hard pressed to lay their eyes on it. A new report from the BBC claims the country is gearing up to ban the movie. And it all has to do with director Bill Condon's admission that one of the characters is gay.
There has been much made about the character of LeFou being outted as gay in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Not only is Russia gearing up to cancel screenings in the country, an Alabama Drive-In theater made news yesterday when it announced that the film wouldn't be shown on their screens for the same reasons. While the Drive-In is personally owned and operated, and can refuse to show whatever movie it deems inappropriate, Russia's ban is a little more severe.
Beauty and the Beast may not make it into Russia because of the country's strict gay propaganda law. The BBC reports, via Deadline, that MP of the United Russia party Vitaly Milonov is urging Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to screen the movie for compliance with the anti-gay law. The movie opens a day earlier in Russia, and is supposed to be in Russian cinemas on March 16, with it hitting the U.S. on March 17.
This version of Beauty and the Beast shows Josh Gad's Le Fou having strong feelings for the handsome Gaston, played by Dan Stevens. Le Fou is described by director Condon as someone who wants to be Gaston one minute, and then kiss him the next. The film is confirmed to have what is called the first-ever exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie. That moment comes near the end, and shows Le Fou dancing with another man in celebration. Le Fou is being described as Disney's first-ever gay character. In a recent interview with ScreenCrush, Condon said this about the gay controversy.
"Oh God. Can I just tell you? It's all been overblown. Because it's just this, it's part of just what we had fun with. You saw the movie, yeah? You know what I mean. I feel like the kind of thing has been, I wish it were. I love the way it plays pure when people don't know and it comes as a nice surprise."
It isn't yet known if Beauty and the Beast will be outright banned in Russia. But it's probably not something Disney will care too much about. The film is already guaranteed to be a blockbuster, with early predictions for opening weekend over $100+ million. And having the movie banned will certainly give the film a marketing push that Disney doesn't have to pay for. You can watch some of Josh Gad's performance in the official Gaston clip released by Disney, which has Le Fou singing about 'which team' a group of men prefer to be on while he gives a coy wink to the camera. It is a flamboyant performance, but it matches what was seen in the original 90s version, which hasn't been banned by Russia.