Last week, Walt Disney Studios decided not to release the new live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” in Malaysia rather than edit out four minutes, including a three-second shot in which two men are seen dancing. The film’s director, Oscar winner Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters”) has referred to that sequence as “an exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.”
Refusing to bow to demands of the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia, which forbids any hint of homosexuality in movies, the Mouse House had decided to forego this market of 31 million people. While Malaysia movie-goers don’t add a lot to the bottom line of Hollywood films, Disney did get a break from the Russian censors, who agreed to let “Beauty and the Beast” be released in that country of 145 million with a rating that requires those under 16 to be accompanied by someone over 16.
Now comes news via Malaysia’s largest exhibitor, Golden Screen Cinemas, that “Beauty and the Beast” will be released on March 30 a PG-13 rating and no cuts.
This tale as old as time is the story of Belle (Emma Watson) and her two would-be suitors, the Beast (Dan Stevens) and Gaston (Luke Evans). Gaston’s best pal is LeFou who, according to Condon, is “somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.” To that end, he promises a payoff that will resolve this subplot in a surprising way.
LeFou is played by Josh Gad, a Tony nominee for “The Book of Mormon.” He voiced Olaf the snowman in the Disney animated feature “Frozen.” Here, he is seen on screen and steals every scene in which he appears. Indeed, the director praised the actor to Attitude magazine thus: “Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it.”