The upcoming live-action remake of the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast” made waves last week after its director revealed that one of its characters was “confused” about his sexuality.
Many online said they were proud that the children’s entertainment studio would at long last portray a same-sex relationship, and the editor of a prominent British gay lifestyle magazine hailed it as “a watershed moment for Disney,” as The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi reported.
But the promise of that moment was enough for one drive-in theater in Alabama to cancel its plans to screen the movie, citing religions reasons.
According to the Associated Press, the Henagar Drive-In theater in northern Alabama said in a Facebook post that its operators are “first and foremost Christians” and will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. They said they would continue to show “family-oriented films” so that customers could “watch wholesome movies.”
That Facebook post was no longer publicly visible Saturday, but images of the post remained online. The theater’s operators reportedly also said they would not feel comfortable taking their grandchildren, ages 11 and 8, to see a movie if it included a gay character.
“If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it,” the theater’s Facebook post reportedly said. “I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine.”
On Saturday, the theater appeared to have deleted its Facebook page and replaced it with a new one.
“New Facebook Page. New day,” read a Saturday morning post from the theater. “We will have show times posted shortly.”
“God Bless you for standing up for your convictions and keeping God first!! #truelove,” one Facebook user responded in support of the theater’s decision.
Others said they were disappointed and would not be returning.
“Discriminating against/judging people who do things differently is a surefire way to hurt your business,” another Facebook user wrote.
The drive-in theater has been operating in Henegar, Ala., since 1999, according to its website. It did not respond to calls for comment Saturday morning.
In an interview with Attitude magazine, “Beauty and the Beast” director Bill Condon revealed that LeFou — Gaston’s trusty sidekick, played by Josh Gad — would be a character who is confused about feelings he is realizing he has for Gaston.
“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told the magazine. “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.”
Disney did not immediately respond to questions sent by email Saturday.
“Beauty and the Beast,” starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, will be released in (most) theaters nationwide on March 17.