It’s no secret at this point that Hollywood studios are skipping release of some major films in Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine. Warner Bros has already made headlines with its announcement that it will not be releasing its highly anticipated Robert Pattinson vehicle, The Batman, in Russia, and has been joined by other major studios such as Universal, Paramount, Sony Pictures, and even Disney. While it remains to be seen if current productions such as Death On The Nile or Uncharted will continue to run in the country during this conflict, Disney has said that it will withhold the release of upcoming Pixar film Turning Red, while Sony has halted plans to release Morbius in the country for the time being.
While these are some of the biggest box office draws that will no longer be released in Russian theaters, others have joined the ranks: Sonic 2, The Lost City, as well as the animated feature The Bad Guys and Michael Bay’s Ambulance will no longer be released in Russia, nor will any other films be seen in Russian theaters for the foreseeable future.
All studios have cited the “humanitarian crisis” in the Ukraine as the reason for this move, and have promised to monitor activity, monitor the “situation” going forward.
Make no mistake, their actions are not just right, but necessary. With the current invasion of the country that’s been enacted by Russian president, Vladmir Putin, only pressure from all sides will put an end to the needless violence that began almost a week ago and has caused thousands of casualties since its initiation. That is, at least, the hope – that harsh sanctions from foreign governments, a loss of capital from those unwilling to do business with Russia, and global denouncement of their actions will force Putin to cease this attack.
However, while the actions of major studios are right and necessary, they fall woefully short of what they ought to be doing, and that’s denouncing this invasion.
While a humanitarian crisis is hardly a trivial matter, this goes to the identity of the official that has served as an effective and reliable leader, and not only continues to fight for his country and protect the welfare of his citizens, but refuses to leave the capital city of Kyiv during Russia’s assault: President Volodomyr Zelenskyy.
Along with the fact that he has risen to meet this conflict with passion and dignity, and is being touted as a war hero, prior to his election as the president of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy was, himself, an actor. A comedian by trade, albeit a politically minded one, President Zelenskyy initially made waves in his homeland and across the international political spectrum for not only being elected based off a primarily virtual campaign, but also because he was well known for the television comedy in which he starred called Servant Of The People. In that series, he portrayed a history teacher that ended up being elected president of Ukraine. The situation was amusing at its core, but since his election President Zelenskyy has served his country, making good on all campaign promises he possibly could while governing with relatively little controversy.
Now this actor who has risen to the calling of his position calls out to the international community for aid, for support. SAG-AFTRA has already released a statement standing in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and the protesters in Russia standing against Putin. It must also be conceded that the Motion Picture Association, the lobbying arm of major Hollywood Studios, has made a public statement standing, “with the international community in upholding the rule of law and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
However, after the delivery of the facts at hand, I feel it’s only fair to end with a question that has to be considered.
If the MPA stands publicly with Ukraine and condemns Russia’s actions, and they represent the studios as a collective…then why have the individual companies chosen to publicly hedge their bets by backpedaling on a public stage?
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.