Disney has shelved the release of Beauty And The Beast in Malaysia after refusing to cut a “gay moment” to appease film censors.
The studio said the live-action version of the animated classic, which stars Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the beast, “has not been and will not be cut” for release in Malaysia, which is a predominantly Muslim nation.
Screenings had been scheduled to begin on Thursday.
But the country’s two main cinema chains said the film has been postponed at Disney’s request and that patrons who had purchased advanced tickets would be given a refund.
Film Censorship Board chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid had earlier said the film had been approved after the scene in question was axed.
He said scenes promoting homosexuality were forbidden and that the film was given a P13 rating, which requires parental guidance for children under 13 years of age.
“We have approved it, but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment. It is only one short scene, but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie,” Abdul Halim told the Associated Press.
Character LeFou, played by Josh Gad, is the sidekick to the story’s villain Gaston and “is confused about his sexuality”, according to director Bill Condon, who also described a brief scene as a “gay moment”.
Russia last week approved the film, but banned children under 16 from watching it.
Malaysia’s censors in 2010 loosened decades of restrictions on sexual and religious content in movies, but new rules only allow depiction of gay characters if they show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.