On Saturday, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky vowed to take action against the movie if it was found to be in violation of the country’s controversial “gay propaganda” law.
“As soon as we get a copy of the film with relevant paperwork for distribution,” Medinsky told the BBC, “we will consider it according to the law.”
Medinsky’s pledge was supported by Vitaly Milonov, an MP of the governing United Russia party, who urged the minister to screen “Beauty and the Beast” before it hits Russian theaters March 16 and “take measures to totally ban” the film if “elements of propaganda of homosexuality” were found.
Though “Beauty and the Beast” looks destined to become a blockbuster, the movie has been mired in controversy since last week, when director Bill Condon revealed that Josh Gad’s LeFou would be shown questioning his feelings for antagonist Gaston, played by Luke Evans. Noting that the film concludes with “a nice, exclusively gay moment,” Condon told Attitude magazine, “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants.”
Conservative reaction to Condon’s remarks was swift. On March 2, Alabama’s Henagar Drive-In Theatre said it was dropping “Beauty and the Beast” from its spring lineup, citing the movie’s “homosexual” elements. “When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand,” Henagar’s owners wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. “If we can not take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it.”
Evangelical pastor Franklin Graham followed suit, urging his followers to “say no to Disney.” The company, he said, is “trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children — watch out!”
Condon, who is openly gay, defended his original comments in a Saturday interview with Screencrush. “It’s all been overblown,” the director, who also helmed 2004’s “Kinsey” and 2006’s “Dreamgirls,” said. “It’s part of just what we had fun with.”
UPDATE March 7: Russia’s Culture Ministry told the Associated Press that it has approved the release of “Beauty and the Beast,” but viewers under the age of 16 will not be permitted.
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