The Walt Disney Company, on Thursday, announced that it will be suspending all business in Russia in the wake of the country’s “unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
This will include content and product licensing, Disney Cruise Line activities, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content productions, and linear channels.
This move comes a week after Disney decided to hold the release of its films in Russia, including the Pixar movie Turning Red. In fact, it was the first major studio to announce it was pausing its Russian releases.
Following Disney’s lead, several other entertainment companies, including Amazon, Netflix, WarnerMedia, Universal Pictures, and Paramount Pictures, also decided to pause releases or entirely withdraw business in Russia. These corporate moves come in addition to the heavy economic sanctions levied on Russia by countries around the world and the widespread condemnation of Russia’s escalation of the aggression in Ukraine.
In its statement on Thursday, Disney said, “Last week, after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, we announced that we were pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia and reviewing the rest of our businesses there. Given the unrelenting assault on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis, we are taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia.”
“Some of those business activities we can and will pause immediately. Others—such as linear channels and some content and product licensing—will take time given contractual complexities,” the company said.
However, it added that the company’s Russia-based employees will not be laid off. “Even as we pause these businesses, we remain committed to our dedicated colleagues in Russia, who will remain employed. And we continue to work with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other much-needed assistance to refugees.”
Meanwhile, on a different front, Disney has been drawing criticism for its response to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in Florida, USA, which limits discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. The company had previously donated money to the sponsors of the recently-passed legislation and has taken what is seen as a soft stance to the bill. When calling this out, LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar and their allies alleged in a letter that executives at the global media giant have been pushing them to censor LGBTQIA+ content in Pixar films.
Update: Following Disney’s move suspending all business in Russia, Sony Pictures Entertainment too has announced that it is halting all business in the country, including stopping home entertainment releases, of films such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, and any television distribution deals.