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Hollywood joins Russia blockade over Ukraine invasion

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'The Batman,' starring Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson, is among films whose Russian release has been shelved in reaction to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine./AFP
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Mar 02, 2022 - 06:44 AM

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood is joining the blockade of Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, with Paramount on Tuesday becoming the latest studio to pull its upcoming films from Russian theaters.

The West has closed ranks since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops across the border, imposing a phalanx of financial sanctions intended to raise the cost of military action and put pressure on the Russian economy.

Airspace has been closed to Russian planes, high-tech exports have been curtailed and the sporting world has yanked fixtures from Russian soil, or ejected Russian teams from competition.

Now the United States’ movie-making capital is climbing aboard, with major studios saying they will not release new films in Russia.

Paramount’s pause, which will immediately affect titles including “The Lost City” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” comes on the heels of similar announcements by Disney, Sony and Warner Bros.

Those decisions will affect titles including highly anticipated “The Batman,” which debuts in the United States on Friday.

“As we witness the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, we have decided to pause the theatrical release of our upcoming films in Russia,” a Paramount Pictures spokesman was quoted as saying by US media.

“We stand by all those impacted by the humanitarian crisis across Ukraine, Russia, and our international markets and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds.”

By global standards, Russia is not a huge market for Tinseltown, though big budget releases fare quite well there — “Spider-Man: No Way Home” took a healthy $44 million at the Russian box office, trade title Variety reported.

The entertainment industry has been hostile to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch this week used the occasion of receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to call for action to halt Moscow’s advance.

Germany’s Munich Philharmonic fired Russian conductor and Kremlin loyalist Valery Gergiev on Tuesday after he failed to denounce the invasion.

Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest have said they will not allow Russia to participate in this year’s edition, and punk-pop trio Green Day announced this week that they were cancelling a series of shows in Moscow “in light of current events.”

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