The movie Lightyear will be released in Singapore cinemas this week with a NC16 (Some Mature Content) rating, which means viewers must be aged 16 and above to see the animated Pixar/Disney film about Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear.
The announcement by the Infocomm Media Development Authority came today (June 14) following reports that the movie, which is slated for release in cinemas globally on June 16 and 17, would not be screened in 14 countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia, over a scene of two female characters sharing a kiss. Disney has yet to comment on these reports.
In a statement, the IMDA cited the kiss, which takes place between “a female lead character and her partner [who start] a family and [go] through different milestones of their lives”, calling Lightyear “the first commercial children’s animation to feature overt homosexual depictions”.
The statutory board said that Disney had “turned down” the option of releasing a second version of the film that could “open Lightyear to a younger audience”. The same-sex kiss in Lightyear had reportedly been cut from the film by Disney in March, but was restored after outcry by staff who criticised the company for censoring “overtly gay affection” in its films.
The chairperson of IMDA’s Films Consultative Panel (FCP), Cheryl Ng, said the NC16 rating was “appropriate”, even as she praised Lightyear as “an excellent animated film set in the US context”.
“This being a children’s cartoon, a significant number of FCP members felt that the overt depiction of same-gender marriage would warrant a higher rating,” she said. “Even among members who were willing to consider a lower rating, some were uncomfortable that this would mean it can be shown unedited, to a broad-based audience on Free-to-Air TV.”
Ng added: “It would have been good if Disney had released dual versions of the film. Then younger audiences would be able to catch the film in the cinemas.”
Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board also reportedly requested edits to Lightyear, according to a Variety report, which the publication claimed Disney declined to make.
Other countries that reportedly will not show Lightyear in theatres include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.
A producer on Lightyear, Galyn Susman, said in an interview that she “assumed” the movie “will not make it to China”. “I know we’ve gotten requests for things to cut, Disney isn’t going to modify the material,” she said.
Asked about the controversy about the same-sex kiss in Lightyear on the red carpet, actor Chris Evans, who voices Buzz Lightyear in the movie, recently said: “It’s great that we are a part of something that’s making steps forward in the social inclusion capacity, but it’s frustrating that there are still places that aren’t where they should be.”