It seems like moviegoers in Malaysia won’t get to see the live-action rendition of Disney’s beloved “tale as old as time” for the foreseeable future.
Disney’s live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, which has just recently been released in multiple countries around the world, is expected to be a huge box office smash as one of the most anticipated films of the year. Unfortunately, though, it looks like Disney and cinema fans in Malaysia won’t be able to share in the cinematic experience due to censorship issues in the country.
The fact that Beauty and the Beast contains a scene between two male characters which director Bill Condon has described as showing a “gay moment” has already been widely reported in the media and has resulted in reaction such as a drive-in theater in Alabama, U.S.A. deciding not to screen the film, as well as the movie receiving a 16-plus rating in Russia.
In Malaysia, however, a predominantly Muslim country where homosexual activity is illegal, the Film Censorship Board determined that the scene in question had to be cut in order for the movie to be shown in the country with a P13 rating.
Disney made it clear that they consider removal of the scene to be unacceptable and have announced that they will not be showing a cut version in Malaysia, meaning that the release of the movie in the country has been indefinitely postponed. Before the Film Censorship Board’s decision to require the cut, the film had been scheduled for release in Malaysia on March 16.
In neighboring Singapore, which has a much more diverse religious make-up, the film was released with a parental guidance rating, while in also nearby Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, it was released uncut with a 13-plus classification.
Of course, we understand that cultural and religious circumstances differ in each country, but it does seem a pity that moviegoers in Malaysia aren’t able to view what from the released trailers and images looks to be a dazzling visual feast, and we certainly hope some agreement can be reached to resolve the issue. For those of us in Japan, we still have another month to go until the movie opens on April 21, but you can bet we’ll be waiting in anticipation!