Onwards and upwards

Queer character in Pixar’s latest movie leads to ban in four countries

Specter from Onward (Image: Pixar)
Specter from Onward (Image: Pixar)

The latest animated feature from Pixar, Onward, enjoyed the number one position in the US box office last weekend. It took just over $40 million in the US, plus a further $28 million internationally.

However, that might have been a slightly higher international haul if the movie hadn’t been banned in four Middle Eastern countries. The ban in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia came about because the movie includes a character in a same-sex relationship.

Actress, writer and producer Lena Waithe voices the part of a cyclops police officer named Specter. They are the first character in a Pixar movie to expressly be in a same-sex relationship.

Related: Lena Waithe to voice Pixar’s first out-gay character

During the movie – minor spoiler alert! – Specter says, “It’s not easy being a parent… my girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out, OK?”

Waithe told Variety last week that she specifically asked if she could include a reference to having a girlfriend somewhere in her character’s dialogue.

Although Specter is not one of the main characters, and this reference is the only allusion to her sexuality, it was too much for the four aforementioned countries.

Onward, which follows two teenage elf brothers as they set off on a quest, is showing in other Middle East countries. This includes Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia reportedly changed the word ‘girlfriend’ to partner for its dubbed version of the movie.

Related: Disney+ to make Beauty & The Beast sequel about Gaston and “gay” sidekick LeFou

Despite being number one in the US box office, movie industry pundits say Onward’s $40million haul in the US was at the lower end of expectations. There is speculation this may be linked to some people avoiding theaters over coronavirus fears.

However, with it set to open in several other international territories, and with spring break coming up, the child-friendly movie is expected to continue to do strong business over the coming weeks.