By Nancy Tartaglione
International Box Office Editor/Senior Contributor
Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear begins offshore rollout this week, but won’t be hitting cinemas in such Middle East markets as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Nor will it go to theaters in Malaysia or Indonesia. Deadline understands the film has not received distribution certificates in these markets. As with other recent Hollywood films, the issue is believed to be related to LGBTQ content.
The Toy Story prequel reinstated a same-sex kiss in March, following an internal backlash to Disney’s handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
The embrace is between Alisha, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and another woman. The characters’ relationship itself was never called into question during the making of the film, a source familiar with the production told Deadline in March, but a kiss between them was originally excised. Pixar was one of the loudest voices criticizing Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of the Florida bill.
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Given the history in the Gulf region, Disney may not have even submitted Lightyear to the Saudi censors. In the UAE, however, the film was reportedly previously dated for June 16. The Emirates’ Media Regulatory Office of the Ministry of Youth and Culture tweeted today that Lightyear “is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards.”
The Media Regulatory Office announced that the animated film Lightyear, which is scheduled for release on 16th June, is not licensed for public screening in all cinemas in the UAE, due to its violation of the country’s media content standards. pic.twitter.com/f3iYwXqs1D
— مكتب تنظيم الإعلام (@uaemro) June 13, 2022
Cinemas in the UAE had already advertised showtimes for the film. As of this writing, it is still listed on Vox Cinemas’ local website, but with no link to times or tickets. A search on the Saudi Arabia site returns no results.
In Malaysia, the market’s largest cinema chain GSC tweeted “No beyond.”
No beyond. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/SpL4h5nOn3
— GSC in Jurassic World (@GSCinemas) June 13, 2022
Other recent Disney movies to face restrictions in Saudi and around the region, for perceived reasons ranging from depictions of or references to homosexuality to depictions of gods and prophets, include West Side Story, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness and Eternals.
Lightyear has not yet been dated in China, although censors there recently requested references to a same-sex relationship in Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore be cut. The studio accepted the six-second edit to comply with local requirements.
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