Lightyear will not be allowed to screen in several countries due to a brief scene featuring a same-sex kiss, which had been removed from an early version of the film, but was reinstated for the final cut. The film has been banned in markets including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, and Indonesia. While none of these are huge markets for American tentpoles, it's also likely that the film will be banned from screening in Chinese theaters if the scene is not removed or edited. China recently forced Warner Bros. to make cuts to Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore to avoid references to a same-sex relationship.
Pixar, which was sharply critical of Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill, reinstated the kiss after Disney CEO Bob Chapek's mishandling of that situation. As such, it seems unlikely that Pixar would be willing to make cuts in the vein of what Warner Bros. did for the Wizarding World sequel. According to Deadline, the scene apparently takes place between Alisha, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and another woman.
"As a studio, we're committed to safeguarding the integrity of every film we release, and that extends to circumstances that necessitate making nuanced cuts in order to respond sensitively to a variety of in-market factors," Warner Bros. said at the time. "Our hope is to release our features worldwide as released by their creators but historically we have faced small edits made in local markets. In the case of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, a six-second cut was requested and Warner Bros. accepted those changes to comply with local requirements but the spirit of the film remains intact. We want audiences everywhere in the world to see and enjoy this film, and it's important to us that Chinese audiences have the opportunity to experience it as well, even with these minor edits."
Other recent Disney releases to face similar challenges in international markets have included Marvel's Eternals and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Disney has a new synopsis for Lightyear: A sci-fi action adventure and the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans), the hero who inspired the toy, Lightyear follows the legendary Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure alongside a group of ambitious recruits (voices of Keke Palmer, Dale Soules and Taika Waititi), and his robot companion Sox (voice of Peter Sohn). Also joining the cast are Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Directed by Angus MacLane (co-director Finding Dory) and produced by Galyn Susman (Toy Story That Time Forgot), Lightyear releases on Friday, June 17.