KUWAIT CITY – Beauty and the Beast was pulled from cinemas in Kuwait on Monday after censors raised concerns over the content of the new film, which includes what has been called the first “gay moment” for a Disney character.
The film, which has grossed more than $180 million overseas, had been showing in the predominantly Muslim country of Kuwait since Thursday. But those who’d purchased tickets to see the movie Monday received text messages from Kuwait’s National Cinema Company informing them that screenings were cancelled due to “unforeseen difficulties.” The company also promised ticket buyers a full refund.
Duaij Al-Khalifa Al-Sabah, a board member at the National Cinema Company, which operates 11 of Kuwait’s 13 movie theatres, told The Associated Press a newly edited version of the movie may be in theatres later this week.
He said concerns centre on a scene late in the movie involving the character LeFou, which director Bill Condon describes as an “exclusively gay moment.”
“We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information’s censorship department,” Al-Sabah said.
In some predominantly Muslim countries, same-sex relations can lead to lashings, imprisonment and fines. In a few, it carries the death penalty.
Those in support of the ban on the film in Kuwait launched hashtags calling for “respect” and urging the cinema company to protect children by blocking the movie. The film was given a PG-13 rating in Kuwait.
Disney officials did not immediately respond to a request of comment.
Similar concerns over the film’s brief scene prompted a drive-in theatre in the U.S. state of Alabama to cancel showings. Censors in Malaysia required the scene be edited, but Disney pulled the film from release there.