Elton John on Friday (May 31) condemned the actions of a local distributor in Russia after it reportedly cut scenes depicting gay sex and drug use in Rocketman.
The singer reacted after a Russian film critic posted on Facebook following a preview screening of the biopic and alerted the world to the cuts, which according to reports have trimmed around five minutes of the original run time in service to Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” laws.
The critic, Anton Dolin, claimed the distributor also changed the original film’s final caption, which said John lives with his husband [the film’s producer, David Furnish] and their children. Rocketman opens in Russia on June 6.
Distributor Central Partnership told Russian news agency TASS it had changed the film to remain in step with national laws. However the head of the Russian culture ministry’s film department told the news agency the government had not requested such cuts.
“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,” John, who earlier this month attended the film’s world premiere out of competition in Cannes, said in a statement.
“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.”
“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.”
Paramount, the film’s worldwide distributor, issued its own statement on Friday afternoon that read: “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.”
Rocketman stars Taron Egerton as John and opens in North America this weekend.