An Alabama theater has decided not to screen Disney’s new “Beauty and the Beast” because of reports that one of the characters is gay.
In a message posted Thursday to the Henagar Drive-In Facebook page that has drawn more than 2,000 comments, the theater wrote it would continue to show “family oriented films.”
The post appears to have been removed Friday afternoon.
“When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine,” reads the post.
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“For those that do not know Beauty and the Beast is ‘premiering’ their first homosexual character. The producer also says at the end of the movie ‘there will be a surprise for same-sex couples.’
“If we can not take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.”
Bill Conden, director of the live-action remake of the animated film, made news a few days ago when he told British gay lifestyle magazine Attitude the movie would be the first Disney film to include an “exclusively gay moment.”
One small subplot focuses on the relationship between leading man Gaston, played by Luke Evans, and his sidekick LeFou, played by Tony Award nominee Josh Gad.
LeFou is conflicted about his feelings for Gaston, who is busy wooing Belle, played by Emma Watson.
Reviewers who have seen the film, which debuts March 17, say LeFou flirts with Gaston in several scenes and dances with another male character in the finale, which Gad calls “subtle but incredibly effective.”
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told Attitude.
“He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.
“And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
According to People, at the movie’s premiere Thursday in Los Angeles, Gad said Condon “did an amazing job of giving us an opportunity to create a version of LeFou that isn’t like the original, that expands on what the original did, but that makes him more human and that makes him a wonderfully complex character to some extent.”
The theater owners in Henagar, Ala., who took over the establishment on Dec. 16, acknowledged that some people will disagree with their decision.
“That’s fine,” they wrote. “We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches.
“We will continue to show family oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language.”
New York Times culture writer Sopan Deb spoke to the theater owner on Friday, tweeting:
The theater’s decision has spawned heated debate on its Facebook page. Some people agree with the decision.
“I applaud you,” commented one woman. “It is rare to see a business putting their values ahead of money. There are many, many families that will not be supporting this movie.”
“Good for you!!” wrote one man. “I am also sick of companies trying to instill their values in the minds of our children. This is not a movie it is an indoctrination. Thank you for having the courage to uphold your Christian values!!! For the rest of us boycott Disney!!!!”
But others call the move censorship and, worse, prejudice against gays.
“Yet another group of people twisting religion to fit their own prejudices. Very sad,” wrote another man.
“We are all God's children and Jesus walked with everyone. My theatre would never (censor) art. I guess someone else will make the money and you will lose out and go out of business.”
Another woman wrote that people will still go see the movie “and take their kids. They just won’t spend their money at your establishment and some may never return and if your business goes under, then that’s God’s will.”