Central Partnership, the Russian distributor of the Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” has cut out all scenes depicting drug use and gay sex in the film to conform to the Russian Federation’s legislation against ‘homosexual propaganda’.
In the wake of the cuts, said to total around five minutes in length, Elton John himself along with star Taron Egerton and the filmmakers have blasted the territory’s censorship rules. John and the producers say:
“We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today. Paramount Pictures have been brave and bold partners in allowing us to create a film which is a true representation of Elton’s extraordinary life, warts and all.
That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people. We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.”
Egerton meanwhile posted his response on his social media and also condemns the actions:
“I am crestfallen that the decision was made to censor our movie for the Russian market. [This is a] sad reflection of the divided world we still live in. I, in no way, condone this decision and feel disappointed I wasn’t made aware and given the chance to fight this move. Love is love. No compromises.”
They weren’t the only ones as Paramount has issued their own statement, explaining what happened:
“We are incredibly proud of the movie that we made, which is told in the way that Elton John wanted his story to be depicted. We are releasing the film in its entirety around the world regardless of rating, but like all studios, we must adhere to local laws and requirements in certain territories in which the film is being shown.”
The cuts come as last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was released in the country uncensored last year and made $16.4 million – or about 2% of the world’s global box-office.
The Freddie Mercury film was famously heavily watered down in regards to the subject matter in order to obtain a PG-13 rating, it was a choice that led to box-office and awards success but critics hated the film.
“Rocketman” on the other hand is enjoying a much better critical reception and indeed has been partly marketing itself on the fact it doesn’t hold back like ‘Bohemian’ did.
The Guardian spoke with film critic Anton Dolin who has apparently seen the new cut and confirmed it excised: “all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men” and then adds: “It’s very noticeable, it’s about a principled five minutes, very important for artistic purpose.”
“Rocketman” is now in cinemas everywhere.