Hollywood studios are postponing movie releases in Russia over the war in Ukraine

Jared Leto in Columbia Pictures’ “Morbius”
Jared Leto in Columbia Pictures’ “Morbius”
Image: Columbia Pictures
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Major Hollywood film studios are pausing major movie releases in Russia in light of the conflict in 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,” a statement from Disney read this week. “We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation.”

Similarly, Sony’s Morbius, scheduled for an April 1 release, and Warner Bros. The Batman, due to hit theaters on March 3, will both be held back as the studios assess the ongoing situation in Ukraine. 

What Russia means to Hollywood’s box office revenue

Hollywood studios were battered by movie theater lockdowns during the pandemic. That recent history makes the decision to temporarily forgo revenue from a major international market like Russia even more momentous, as a morality versus profit stance.

However, Russia is hardly a leading source of revenue for Hollywood.

Prior to the pandemic, the Motion Picture Association ranked (pdf) Russia as the ninth biggest international market for box office revenue, at roughly $900 million. By comparison, Mexico and Germany, number eight and seven, respectively, are more important to Hollywood studios. 

Nevertheless, as the film business works to recover from massive losses over the past two years, every country counts, and removing Russia from the box office tally could further damage the industry’s bottom line. 

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