Warner Bros. has suspended the release of Matt Reeves’ The Batman in Russia just days before its international theatre release. The move coincides with other big Hollywood studios’ decision to postpone forthcoming theatrical releases in Russia as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to the Associated Press, Warner Bros., Walt Disney Co., and Sony Pictures declared on Monday that they will “pause” all scheduled Russian theatre debuts. The Batman was scheduled to open in theatres worldwide on March 4, 2022.
“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film The Batman in Russia,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told the Associated Press in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”
Disney led the campaign on Monday by announcing that the Pixar family film Turning Red will not be released in Russia. Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount, and Universal quickly followed suit, with Universal’s future releases being Michael Bay’s action picture Ambulance in April.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, launched an unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine, eliciting a tremendous worldwide response. Within the last week, there has been increased pressure on world powers to denounce Russia’s invasion on Ukraine and respond by imposing severe economic penalties. The decision to halt theatrical distribution coincides with other boycotts of Russia in the entertainment business – music performers continue to cancel gigs in the country, and Variety claimed that streaming behemoth Netflix will halt “all future projects and acquisitions from Russia.”
According to CNBC, Russian ticket sales are not the most substantial on an international scale, but they are still one of the most “important” regions for big Hollywood studios. In comparison, Sony and Marvel Studios’ movie Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed more over $50 million in Russia in 2021.
“Russia has, at times, been a very relevant piece of the international box office picture,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNBC. “But the humanitarian crisis resulting from current developments is emerging as a clear consideration for Hollywood distributors in such a challenging and tragic geopolitical environment… It’s yet another unprecedented situation for industry leadership to face with no certain road map or blueprint to follow.”
According to Vulture, the number of artistic organisations expressing sympathy with Ukraine by prohibiting Russian cultural exports is growing around the world, affecting “nearly every corner of the cultural sphere.” Russia has also been barred from attending the forthcoming European Film Awards, while the Cannes Film Festival recently announced that Russian delegations or anyone with ties to the Russian government will be barred.
“Unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people, it has been decided that we will not welcome official Russian delegations nor accept the presence of anyone linked to the Russian government,” the Cannes Film Festival announced this in a statement issued on March 1. “Loyal to its history that started in 1939 in resistance to the fascist and Nazi dictatorship, the Festival de Cannes will always serve artists and industry professionals that raise their voices to denounce violence, repression and injustices, for the main purpose to defend peace and liberty.”