Dumbledore’s sexuality in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel has been the subject of increasing scrutiny in the past week. And, according to a new analysis, foreign box office may be the culprit.
A recent Forbes piece follows the money and says that overseas demands may put the kibosh on tentpole releases with a production budget of above $200 million from having any explicitly queer leads because foreign countries may censor the film or not show it at all.
“Without painting America as a paragon of progressive virtue,” Forbes wrote. “There are many countries around the world that would be unwilling to carry the picture if it featured an openly gay lead character.”
As evidence, the writer pointed out that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was almost banned in China, even though it was a small blink-and-you-miss-it moment. Forty minutes of Cloud Atlas ended up on the cutting room floor in China, as well.
“If Grindelwald got banned there, that’s $108m of expected grosses gone,” Forbes wrote. “Considering Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. does not know if their new J.K. Rowling franchise has legs past initial curiosity, they can’t necessarily afford to do the right thing quite yet. And that’s not even accounting for rising LGBT intolerance in America.”
Basically, the studio is pitting the integrity of the character and the interests of LGBT Harry Potter fans against bottom line capitalist interests even if the film has queer undertones.
“Due to the very overseas grosses that WB is counting on, they must play coy even as the first Fantastic Beasts was arguably a metaphor for the self-destruction that occurs when folks are forced to hide who they are in terms of sexual orientation,” Forbes wrote. “Metaphorically gay is safe, but explicitly gay is not. We all know what they should do, but we can’t always expect the folks who produce superhero movies to act like superheroes.”