Earlier this week, Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon confirmed in an interview that his upcoming adaptation will make history by featuring the first ever gay character in a Disney movie, Josh Gad's Le Fou. The movie will feature the studio's first ever "exclusively gay moment," as the director put it, but this news has lead one Alabama drive-in theater to ban the movie for just that reason. It isn't clear yet if other theaters plan to ban the movie before it hits theaters in just two weeks, on March 17.
Alabama news station WHNT reports that the new owners of the Henagar Drive-in Theatre in DeKalb County, Alabama have taken a stand against the movie, solely for featuring the gay character Le Fou, who is the aide-de-camp of Luke Evans' character Gaston. The owners announced the ban on the theater's Facebook page last night, which already has more than 1,500 shares and 2,300 comments. Here's the statement in full from the theater's Facebook post that went up last night.
"As of December 16th the Henagar Drive-In is under new ownership. Movies scheduled prior to that date and four weeks after this date were not scheduled by the new owners. That being said...It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing Beauty and the Beast at the Henagar Drive-In when it comes out. When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine. For those that do not know Beauty and the Beast is "premiering" their first homosexual character. The producer also says at the end of the movie "there will be a surprise for same-sex couples". If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can't sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it. I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That's fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language. Thank you for your support!"
Some fans pointed out on the Facebook post that the movie has been rated PG-13, and that 11-year-old and eight-year-old children shouldn't watch the movie anyway. The comments on the post are quite divisive, with some praising the theater for standing up for Christian values, while others have blasted the theater for their decision. Regardless of one theater's decision to ban the movie, this fairy tale adaptation is shaping up to be one of this year's first huge box office blockbusters.
We reported last week that some box office analysts are predicting that Beauty and the Beast could open as high as $120 million when it hits theaters on March 17. The movie's first two trailers broke records for the most views in a 24-hour period, and it is already an early critical success. The first movie reviews started coming in today, with the film amassing an impressive 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 31 positive reviews and eight negative reviews thus far, although there will certainly be many more reviews pouring in between now and its release. It's unclear if Disney will issue a statement in regards to this drive-in theater ban for Beauty and the Beast, but we'll have to wait and see if the studio responds, or if more theaters follow this Alabama theater's lead.