Hollywood Studios Are Reversing on Russia. What About Universal?

Warner Bros., Disney and other top studios were psyched to release films in Russia until everyone heard about it.

UPDATE March 1:

Hours after Los Angeles reported here that Universal was alone among major studios still releasing its big pictures in Russia despite that country’s criminal invasion of Ukraine—namely, with Michael Bay’s upcoming Ambulance starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and DreamWorks/Universal’s The Bad Guys starring Sam Rockwell and Awkwafina—the studio decided not to make hundreds of millions off the back of Russia’s brutal siege. Universal did not return our calls or emails, but they released a statement elsewhere.

“In response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, Universal Pictures has paused planned theatrical releases in Russia,” a rep. for the company said Tuesday.

We’re sure Universal will get that “pause” cleared up real soon.

On Monday morning, Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, Sony and Universal were still planning to rake in millions by opening their big pictures in Russia despite that nation’s invasion of Ukraine. But after a day of bad press in which it was pointed out that Ukraine is asking the civilized moviemaking world to boycott the aggressor, some of the studios have changed their minds about their Russo-Hollywood schemes.

Disney was first to reverse, stating late Monday afternoon that it was cancelling its planned March 10 release of Turning Red in Russia.

Warner Bros. was next, announcing Monday night that The Batman will no longer be gracing screens in the Federation.

“In light of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, WarnerMedia is pausing the release of its feature film ‘The Batman’ in Russia,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We hope for a swift and peaceful resolution to this tragedy.”

Also on Monday evening, Sony saw its way to putting the kibosh on its planned March 24 Russian release of Marvel’s Morbius.

“Given the ongoing military action in Ukraine and the resulting uncertainty and humanitarian crisis unfolding in that region, we will be pausing our planned theatrical releases in Russia, including the upcoming release of Morbius,” the studio said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and hope this crisis will be resolved quickly.”

Paramount had been planning to send Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to Russia on March 31 and The Lost City on April 7, but those plans, too, have been scrapped.

The company said in a statement Tuesday, “As we witness the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia, including The Lost City and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. We stand by all those impacted by the humanitarian crisis across Ukraine, Russia and our international markets and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.”

In terms of major studios with Russian plans, that leaves Universal. As Los Angeles reported on Monday, Michael Bay’s Universal pic Ambulance—starring Jake Gyllenhaal—is still scheduled to delight audiences in the invader nation on April 7, while the DreamWorks/Universal animated pic The Bad Guys—starring Sam Rockwell and Akwafina—is still set for a Kremlin-adjacent release on March 24.

Reps for Universal and Michael Bay did not respond to requests for comment from Los Angeles Tuesday.

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