There are few classic Disney movies more beloved than 1991's Beauty and the Beast. With groundbreaking visual affects and stunning music by Alan Menken, the animated film was the first to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. But even more important is the cultural impact that Belle's story had on 90's kids and beyond. And with the live-action adaptation hitting theaters shortly, expectations are at an all-time high. Early reception for the new Beauty and the Beast has been rather positive, although now it appears that there will also be a fair mount of controversy. Because one drive in theater has already banned the film altogether.
This news comes to us from a local Alabama news network, WHNT. The report reveals that local business Henagar Drive-in Theatre is refusing to air the new Beauty and the Beast for religious reasons. With Disney recently revealing that Gaston's sidekick Le Fou will be harboring same-sex attraction toward the villain, the folks behind Henagar Drive-In believe that the film is now unacceptable for children, as well as the devout Christians who apparently patronize the establishment.
Henagar Drive-In actually made the announcement on their official Facebook page. The statement is rather lengthy, and the comments section is already exploding with conversations among locals, as well as advocates on both sides of the debate. You can check it out below.
News of this Beauty and the Beast boycott seems to have caught the local community off guard, mostly because Henagar Drive-In was previously under very different ownership. It appears that the old owner did not feel such a strong sense of duty, and would instead allow his guests to judge a film's morality for themselves. This resulted in films like Fifty Shades of Grey being shown back in 2015, which seems to be a point of contentions for those who don't support the boycott. Regardless of Le Fou's sexuality, it's hard to argue that Fifty Shades is far more controversial and mature than anything Disney proper would ever put out.
The subject of LBGT inclusion and visibility in Hollywood blockbusters has been a controversial one for the past few years. Some fans have been calling for queer characters to be present in films of this size, and the Star Trek franchise led the way by revealing that Sulu has a husband and daughter. Additionally, many fans had been hoping that Star Wars' Finn and Poe had a romantic connection, especially after J.J. Abrams stated that he believes LBGT characters should and will be included in the galaxy far, far away. The flip side of this argument is that these moments feel forced, or that queer inclusion doesn't sit well with a more religious audience.
We'll be sure to update you on this situation as it progresses. Beauty and the Beast will premiere March 17, 2017, basically everywhere except the Henagar Drive-In.