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Disney, Warner and Sony halt release of new films in Russia

'The Batman' and imminent Pixar film 'Turning Red' are among those having their Russian releases paused

By Will Richards

Robert Pattinson as The Batman
'The Batman'. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

Major film studios including Disney, Warner Bros and Sony have halted the release of upcoming films in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of last Thursday (February 24), with Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing the assault in a pre-recorded address, with air strikes reported on military facilities close to cities across Ukraine, including the capital of Kyiv, and with Russian military vehicles breaching the border in a number of locations.

Ukraine has described it as a “full-scale invasion”, per the BBC, and has instituted martial law and severed diplomatic relations with Russia.

After a number of musical artists, including Green Day and Yungblud cancelled shows scheduled in Russia set for 2022, film studios have now also changed their schedules following the invasion.

As a result, ‘The Batman’, which was due to be released in Russia this Friday (March 4), will now no longer come to cinemas in the country, while Russian releases for other upcoming films including ‘Morbius’ and Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ are also being paused.

“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film ‘The Batman’ in Russia,” a spokesperson for Warner said, with Disney adding of ‘Turning Red’: “Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the theatrical release of films in Russia,” Disney said in a statement.

A Sony spokesperson told the BBC: “Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia.

A Ukrainian flag with the tryzub (trident) flies above the people attending the commemorative event for the Debalt
Russia has launched a full-scale military assault on Ukraine. (Photo: Alamy)

Elsewhere, it has been revealed that Sean Penn is on the ground in Ukraine filming a documentary about Russia’s invasion.

The actor and activist, who has previously fronted documentaries including Citizen Penn, about community relief efforts, was seen at a press briefing held by the Ukrainian government in Kyiv on Thursday (February 24). Vice Studios confirmed the news to Variety.

Penn visited Ukraine last November to prepare for the film documentary by talking to the country’s military. The Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation Press Service posted photos from the visit.

According to a statement released by the Office of the President of the Ukraine on Facebook, Penn has now spoken with deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk.