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Alabama Theater Cancels ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Screenings Due to Gay Character

Variety logo Variety 3/3/2017 Maane Khatchatourian
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Moviegoers at a drive-in theater in Alabama won’t be able to see a retelling of the “tale as old as time.”

The Henagar Drive-In Theatre in DeKalb County has canceled its screenings of “Beauty and the Beast” because the film will feature Disney’s first openly gay character.

Director Bill Condon recently told Attitude magazine that Josh Gad’s LeFou — villain Gaston’s (Luke Evans) eccentric sidekick — will be Disney’s first-ever LGBTQ character — a way of honoring the original 1991 animated film’s late lyricist Howard Ashman.

“Josh Gad, incidentally, plays Gaston’s worshipful stooge LeFou as maximally silly and fawning, but I must have missed the memo where that spells ‘gay,'” Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote in his review.

The announcement follows the Alabama theater’s change in ownership. “When companies continually force their views on us, we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine,” a statement on the northeast Alabama theater’s Facebook page read. “If we cannot take our 11-year-old granddaughter and 8-year-old grandson to see a movie, we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it.”

The company acknowledged that their actions may be controversial, but concluded “that’s fine.” “We are first and foremost Christians,” the statement continues. “We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family-oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality, and foul language.”

Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” Condon told U.K.’s Attitude. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. 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.”

Gad tweeted on Tuesday that he’s “beyond proud” of  the milestone.

The film, starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, hits theaters on March 17.

Here’s the Henagar Drive-In’s full statement below.

As of December 16th the Henagar Drive-In is under new ownership. Movies scheduled prior to that date and four weeks after this date were not scheduled by the new owners. That being said…It is with great sorrow that I have to tell our customers that we will not be showing Beauty and the Beast at the Henagar Drive-In when it comes out. When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine. For those that do not know Beauty and the Beast is “premiering” their first homosexual character. The producer also says at the end of the movie “there will be a surprise for same-sex couples”. If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it. I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language. Thank you for your support!

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