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Hollywood studios pause theatrical releases in Russia

Still from Pixar’s “Turning Red.”

The Walt Disney Company will halt all future theatrical film releases in Russia following the country’s attack on Ukraine.

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming ‘Turning Red’ from Pixar,” the company said in a statement Monday. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation.

“In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crises, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees,” Disney said.

Disney is the first major Hollywood studio to take a hard stance against Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Warner Bros. followed suit later Monday, saying it was pausing the release of “The Batman” in the country “in light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves,” the company said in a statement. “We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

While ticket sales in Russia are not as significant as those drummed up in China, it is still a prominent market for Hollywood studios. On average, the Russian box office accounts for around 3% of all global ticket sales, according to data from Comscore.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” a co-production with Sony, has tallied more than $50 million in the country.

“The Motion Picture Association stands with the international community in upholding the rule of law and condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the Motion Picture Association said in a statement Monday.”On behalf of our member companies, who lead the film, TV and streaming industry, we express our strongest support for Ukraine’s vibrant creative community who, like all people, deserve to live and work peacefully.”

Disney and Warner Bros.’ decisions to forego releases in Russia comes amid a wave of other boycotts from the entertainment industry.

Streaming giant Netflix said it will not comply with Russian rules to carry news channels amid the escalating Russian invasion in Ukraine.

“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” a Netflix spokesperson told CNBC on Monday. The decision comes as a wave of Russian state-backed news broadcasts spread Russian propaganda justifying the war Moscow started in Ukraine last week.

Sports organizations and professional athletes are also hitting Russia with their own kinds of sanctions. Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) joined the Union of European Football Associations to announce it would bar Russian teams from events, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, until further notice.

The National Hockey League, which has more than two dozen Russian-born hockey players, has suspended agreements with Russian companies and the International Olympic Committee also recommended banning Russian teams from competitions for violating the “Olympic Truce.”

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