Elton John, ‘Rocketman’ Filmmakers Blast Russia’s Censorship of Sex Scenes

Elton John and the “Rocketman” filmmakers have rebuked a Russian distributor for cutting scenes with gay sex and men kissing from the biopic.

“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,” read a statement released Friday. “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.”

The cuts were first reported by Russian journalists after a screening of the film on May 30 in Moscow. The Guardian reported that the musical, starring Taron Egerton, has been cut by an estimated five minutes due to Russia’s laws banning “homosexual propaganda.” “Rocketman” is distributed by Central Partnership in Russia.

“Rocketman,” directed by Dexter Fletcher, is debuting in North American this weekend and performing at the top end of forecasts, which had the film at around $20 million from 3,610 venues. The movie debuted at the Cannes Film Festival to strong reviews. Producers are Adam Bohling, David Furnish, David Reid and Matthew Vaughn. John is an executive producer.

Paramount issued a separate statement on Friday: “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.”

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