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Power Rangers finally hit theaters this weekend, and while we initially thought the biggest drama would relate to the darker themes present in the movie, as it turns out, there's instead a controversy about the LGBT character in the movie, at least in Russia. Some of the country's leading officials came out this week and called for the film to be banned, which would have been a major snag for the movie. Still, it'll get the most restrictive rating Russia offers: 18+.
Speaking to Russian Station Tsargrad, Vitaly Milonov, a conservative Russian politician, didn't mince words about the restrictive rating. Here's a portion of his aggressive quote, per THR.
If fascist ideology is banned in our country, then [movies by] the likes of Dean Israelite should be banned first thing.
Russia has a long history of objecting strongly to LGBT themes and characters in films. Earlier this year, Beauty and the Beast, which features its own gay character, was similarly given a more restrictive rating, despite many others considering the movie to be very family-friendly. Although, in some ways, that's the larger problem. Although Russia has laws on the books that ban so-called gay propaganda in movies, books and tv shows aimed at minors, exactly what gay propaganda is and isn't can be a bit unclear. Apparently, Power Rangers, which features the yellow ranger questioning her sexuality, does qualify for a more restrictive rating.
In the end, this probably won't do a ton to alter Power Rangers' fortunes at the box office. Russia is just one of my international markets which studios rely on to make money for these sorts of tentpole releases, and being restricted to 18+ isn't the worst thing in the world, especially for an action film largely propped up by nostalgia for a decades old TV show.
The finalized numbers won't be available until Monday, but Power Rangers is expected to gross more than $40M in its opening weekend at just the North American box office--which means it should make far more worldwide. If it's able to hold a few weekends and produce a reasonable international gross, the film just may turn into the gigantic franchise everyone involved is hoping for, even with the minor LGBT subplot.
If the box office works out, and that's the best case scenario, it'll be a few years until Russia has to give a rating to the next Power Rangers, and by then the laws may be completely different. Until then, keep an eye on the box office and be sure to check out our upcoming movie release schedule.