Malaysia changes its tune about Beauty and the Beast

2017-03-22 09:25

Malaysia — The Walt Disney Co. said on Tuesday its movie Beauty and the Beast will open in Malaysia on 30 March without the cutting of a gay scene as had been ordered by film censors.

The re-telling of the animated classic was originally scheduled to start showing on 16 March but was postponed after Disney refused to edit the film.

"We are pleased to announce that Disney's Beauty and the Beast has now been approved to be released in Malaysia with no cuts, with a PG13 rating" on 30 March, the Walt Disney Co. (Malaysia) said in a brief statement. No details were provided.

Malaysia's top two cinema chains also announced that advance tickets for the 30 March showings would be on sale soon.

Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim had earlier said the movie was approved with a minor cut involving "a gay moment" because scenes promoting homosexuality were forbidden. He said the film was given a PG13 rating, which requires parental guidance for children under age 13.

Abdul Halim couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

A government official said the reversal came after a film appeal committee reviewed the movie and decided that the scene wasn't offensive. The official, who declined to be identified because he wasn't authorised to speak to the media, said the appeal committee had different members than the earlier group that wanted the scene cut. He declined to provide further details.

The film's characters include manservant LeFou, who plays the sidekick to villain Gaston, and, according to director Bill Condon, "is confused about his sexuality." Condon has described a brief scene as a "gay moment."

Russia approved the movie but banned children under 16 from watching it without the accompaniment of someone over 16.

Malaysia's censors in 2010 loosened decades of restrictions on sexual and religious content in movies, but still kept a tight leash on tiny bikinis, kisses and passionate hugs.

The new rules allowed depiction of gay characters, but only if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.

Sodomy, even if consensual, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping in Malaysia.

Kuwait bans movie

The Kuwait National Cinema Company said on Tuesday it has decided to ban the movie, citing its "responsibilities" despite it already having been screened.

The film was released in the conservative Muslim Gulf state on Thursday, but the privately owned company withdrew the film four days later to review its content.

"Dear customers: We would like to inform you that the management of Kuwait National Cinema Company has decided to bar the Beauty and the Beast film," the company said in a statement on its official Twitter account on Tuesday.

The decision "is in line with the company's responsibilities and principles towards young customers", it said.

A day earlier, the company tweeted that it had decided to suspend the screening of the film to review its content, apparently after objections were raised on social media.

Watch the trailer here:

The film releases in South African cinemas on Friday, 14 April. 

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