Update March 1, 4:05 pm: Universal has halted the release of its films in Russia, including Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” and the DreamWorks-produced animated feature “Bad Guys.” Heist thriller “Ambulance” stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, while “Bad Guys” features the voice talents of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos and Awkwafina.
Update March 1: Paramount also pulled two of its upcoming releases from the calendar in Russia on Tuesday: “The Lost City” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2”
“As we witness the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia, including ‘The Lost City,’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2.’ We stand by all those impacted by the humanitarian crisis across Ukraine, Russia, and our international markets and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds,” a spokesperson said in a statement shared with Variety.
Sony has followed suit and pulled the release of “Morbius” from Russia amid the invasion. “Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius,” a Sony spokesperson said late Monday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”
Update February 28, 9:14 pm ET: Warner Bros. has followed suit and pulled “The Batman” from its imminent release in Russia. A WarnerMedia spokesperson said in a statement: “In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film ‘The Batman’ in Russia. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
Update February 28, 7:38 pm ET: As the Western world rallies around Ukraine, applying aggressive sanctions that are crippling the Russian economy as Vladimir Putin invades the European nation, Hollywood has been faced with difficult decisions about how to respond. Today, Disney took the boldest step yet towards sanctioning Russia, pausing the Russian releases of all of its upcoming theatrical films, beginning with next week’s “Turning Red.” In a statement released this afternoon, the company said that it will not be doing business in Russia while the invasion proceeds, choosing instead to focus on helping Ukrainian refugees.
“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming ‘Turning Red’ from Pixar,” the company said. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees.”
The move comes as much of the sports and entertainment world have lept into action to isolate Russia from global pop culture. Formula 1 canceled its Russian Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held this September, and FIFA and UEFA both banned Russia from competing in any international soccer matches. American musicians including Green Day and AJR have also canceled upcoming concerts in Russia, and many top American music venues have vowed to stop serving Russian vodka.
Disney’s decision marks the strongest stance against Russia that the American film industry has taken since the invasion began. However, this month’s biggest theatrical film is still expected to play in Russia. Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros. has no plans to pull “The Batman” from Russia when the film hits theaters this weekend, citing contractual obligations and the fact that the film is being distributed through private companies that are not owned by the state.
It remains to be seen how other studios will respond, or how long Disney’s Russian boycott will last. Other upcoming releases from the studio include “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” in May, “Lightyear” in June, and “Thor: Love and Thunder” in July.