The graphic novel “Nimona” was supposed to be adapted for the big screen with a January 2022 release date, but the now-defunct Disney-owned animation company behind the feature, Blue Sky Studios, was shut down in February 2021 before the film could be completed.
Now, former Blue Sky executives — who requested to remain anonymous — told Insider that Walt Disney Co. allegedly took issue with queer elements of the film, including a gender non-conforming lead character and LGBTQ+ themes that culminated in a same-sex kiss.
Chloë Grace Moretz and Riz Ahmed were reportedly set to star as two shapeshifters in the film. “Nimona” was estimated to be “75 percent” completed, with Ahmed’s character Lord Ballister Blackheart sharing a kiss with hero Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, whose casting was never made public. Moretz was slated to voice the gender non-conforming lead.
Three former Blue Sky staff members spoke out about the “pushback” from Disney during “Nimona” production in mid-2020.
To note, Blue Sky was acquired by Disney during the 2019 Fox acquisition, with Disney shutting down the animation studio behind the “Ice Age” films and more in April 2021 due to the financial constraints of the pandemic. Per Insider, Blue Sky leadership “felt enough pressure in this meeting to leave the kiss out of future presentations to Disney, despite hoping to ultimately include it in the film.”
One former staffer said, “We need more queer stories, but we also need to call out how nefarious it is when you don’t tell queer stories. When the biggest entertainment company in the world creates content for children and systematically censors queer content, they are pushing queer children to dark places.”
IndieWire has reached out to representatives at Disney for comment.
Disney was criticized for financially backing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in Florida primary schools. Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a statement that assured the “biggest impact” the conglomerate can have is “through the inspiring content we produce” to represent the LGBTQ+ community.
Now, it seems the “inspiring content” has parameters.
“Chapek championed inclusive storytelling and LGBTQ content, but what content?” another former Blue Sky staffer told Insider. “Disney is its own biggest hurdle in telling those stories.”
Chapek was later personally called out for inaction over the Florida bill, and the Animation Guild and Pixar staff slammed Chapek’s subsequent apology. Select Disney employees also planned a week-long walkout protest.