Disney Now Says it Will ‘Pause’ All Business with Russia

As violence escalates, Disney will pause licensing, cruise lines, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content production and more

Having already halted the release of its movies to Russian following the invasion of Ukraine, Disney has now announced it is “taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia.”

“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,” the company said in a statement Thursday, Deadline reports.

“Given the unrelenting assault on Ukraine and the escalating humanitarian crisis, we are taking steps to pause all other businesses in Russia. This includes content and product licensing, Disney Cruise Line activities, National Geographic magazine and tours, local content productions and linear channels.”

While the Mouse House promises that some of its Russian dealings “will pause immediately,” the company claims it’s not quite so simple to nix every deal. Big stuff “such as linear channels and some content and product licensing will take time given contractual complexities,” Disney explains, because apparently some contracts are made of stronger stuff than international alliances against the criminal invasion of a sovereign nation.

“Even as we pause these businesses, we remain committed to our dedicated colleagues in Russia, who will remain employed,” Disney said. “And we continue to work with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other much-needed assistance to refugees.”

It’s the end of a long week for Walt Disney Co., with the embattled entertainment juggernaut finding itself behind the times—and in the headlines nearly every day this week.

On Monday, under pressure to release a statement against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Chapek instead released a long company-wide screed to his employees explaining why making a statement wouldn’t be appropriate.

“As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds,” Chapek wrote. “Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”

At the Wednesday shareholder meeting, Chapek attempted to close the door on the matter, voicing Disney’s opposition to the legislation for the first time. He also announced that the company would pledge a $5 million donation to the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQ rights organizations, as well as meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss concerns about the bill.

However, not everyone deemed Disney’s actions to be sufficient. Chapek was left with egg on his face when Human Rights Campaign, the group to which Disney pledged $5 million, made it known that they wouldn’t accept the donation until “meaningful action” was taken on the bill, HRC interim president Joni Madison said in a statement.

On Thursday, in an anonymous letter signed “the LGBTQIA+ employees of Pixar, and their allies,” some animation studio employees alleged that Disney bigs were censoring same-sex affection in Pixar films, writing that “diverse characters come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were.

On Friday, the C-suite attempted to mop up a week’s worth of misunderstanding and criticism. In another company-wide email, Chapek said that he would halt all political donations in Florida, according to Variety. He also apologized to the company’s LGBTQ employees for the previous mixed messaging.

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights,” Chapek wrote. “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”

Want the Daily Brief in your inbox? Sign up for our newsletters today.