Only viewers over 18 will be able to see the film reboot of kid-friendly franchise Power Rangers in Russia, following the film’s inclusion of a gay character.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, on Friday Russian Power Rangers distributor WDSSPR informed cinemas that the age restriction for the film had been raised from 16+ to 18+, and while no direct explanation was given for the change it is assumed to be a response to harsh criticism from legislators over the movie’s LGBT character Trini, aka the Yellow Ranger (played by actress and singer Becky G).
“If fascist ideology is banned in our country, then [movies by] the likes of Dean Israelite should be banned first thing,” hard-line legislator Vitaly Milonov said on conservative TV network Tsargrad last Thursday, adding that director Israelite was “a scumbag” while comparing the film to the practice of hiding bombs inside children’s toys.
Another legislator called Alexei Zhuravlev added: “Some officials [at the Culture Ministry] don’t want to observe laws adopted by the State Duma [lower chamber of Russian Parliament], specifically the law banning gay propaganda among minors.”
A similar furore had taken place two weeks earlier, when Milonov demanded the Culture Ministry apply extra scrutiny to Disney remake Beauty and the Beast due to the inclusion of a gay character (Josh Gad’s LeFou), resulting in an atypically high 16+ rating for that film.
The resulting restriction may have hurt Power Rangers’ box office in Russia, taking only 7 million rubles (about £98,000) according to Exhibitor’s Bulletin. However, its worldwide gross is currently a healthy $59 million (about £47 million), so the controversy doesn’t seem to have affected its overall performance.