Pixar’s upcoming Toy Story spin-off movie Lightyear has reportedly been banned in 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, due to a scene that depicts a same-sex kiss.
The scene depicting a lesbian space ranger named Alisha and her partner sharing a brief kiss had originally been cut by Disney, but was reinstated after Pixar animators penned an open letter criticising the company for censoring “overtly gay affection” in its films.
As a result, the film will not be screened in cinemas across Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and more, Reuters has reported. Disney has yet to comment.
The United Arab Emirates’ National Media Council announced via Twitter on Monday (June 13) that the film will not be licensed for screening in cinemas “due to its violation of the country’s media content standards”.
— UAE BARQ (@UAE_BARQ_EN) June 13, 2022
A Variety report also claims that the film was initially approved for release in the UAE, but had its license revoked after posts on social media accused the film of insulting Muslims and Islam.
According to Variety, a source close to Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board had asked for edits to the film. Disney reportedly refused the edits and withdrew the film for theatrical release approval in the country. However, the film could still potentially get a release on the Disney Plus Hotstar service, where parental controls are available.
It is also currently unclear if the film will be screened in China, per comments from Lightyear producer Galyn Susman. “I’m assuming it 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.
Lightyear fleshes out the backstory of Buzz Lightyear, a main character of the beloved Toy Story franchise. The film will follow a young Buzz and his crew as they navigate their way through a hostile planet while facing an evil that looms over the galaxy. Lightyear will premiere in UK cinemas on June 17.
In a recent interview during a premiere of the film on June 8, Chris Evans – who voices Buzz Lightyear in the film – responded to the blowback to the same-sex kiss scene: “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.”
Taika Waititi, who voices the character of Mo Morrison in the film, added: “We’re hoping for a time when we don’t even have to have this conversation. We can watch a movie and we don’t even have to bat an eyelid. We don’t have to think ‘Oh wow, weird’. It’s not weird, it’s normal and it should be normalised. Whenever you have these small steps that studios are making – sometimes they may feel small but also, they are steps – and it’s steps towards normalising humanity and love. I really feel sorry for countries who don’t want this film because of a tiny, weird little thing like that”.