Disney-Pixar animated film Lightyear to screen with NC16 rating in Singapore

A still from Lightyear. The film will be screened in Singapore with an NC16 rating. PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

SINGAPORE - Disney-Pixar animated film Lightyear, which has been banned in several countries over a same-sex kiss scene, will be screened in Singapore with an NC16 rating, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Tuesday (June 14).

It noted that the film, which contains depictions of a female lead character and her partner starting a family and sharing a kiss, is the first commercial children's animation to feature overt homosexual depictions.

This warrants a higher rating, IMDA said, adding that it requested that Disney consider a dual rating release under the Simultaneous Rating Release mechanism.

"The distributor has turned down this option," said IMDA. The film is slated to be released in Singapore on Thursday (June 16).

Disney has been contacted for comments.

The Simultaneous Rating Release mechanism, which has been in place for about two decades, allows film distributors to release two versions of the same film in Singapore, with an edited version to cater to younger audiences.

Recent films which have been released here under this system include Freaky in 2020 and Hellboy in 2019.

Lightyear, a prequel to Pixar's Toy Story franchise featuring space ranger Buzz Lightyear, had sparked controversy after the scene in question was first cut by Disney.

It was restored following protests by Pixar staff against censorship of LGBTQ+ characters.

The kissing scene is part of a montage of milestones in the life of space ranger Alisha Hawthorne, a close friend of Buzz, and her female partner. Variety reported that it appears in the first 30 minutes of the film.

Reuters reported that the film will not play in at least 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, and is also unlikely to open in the world's largest movie market China.

The film will be the first children's animation film in Singapore to be given the NC16 rating for LGBTQ+ content.

IMDA said that in arriving at the rating, it was guided by the Film Classification Guidelines, which aim to be sensitive to social norms and values that are generally acceptable to members of the public.

IMDA added that it had also sought the views of its advisory committee and parents with young children.

The committee comprises the Film Consultative Panel, which is representative of the population profile. It is made up of 46 members from various walks of society including teachers, students, doctors and parents of young children.

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Chairman of the panel Cheryl Ng said: "While it is an excellent animated film set in the US context, Singapore is a diverse society where we have multiple sensibilities and viewpoints. This being a children's cartoon, a significant number of (the panel's) members felt that the overt depiction of same-gender marriage would warrant a higher rating.

"Even among members who were willing to consider a lower rating, some were uncomfortable that this would mean it can be shown unedited, to a broad-based audience on free-to-air TV."

Ms Ng, who is also the director of Great Expectations Communications Laboratory, an associate lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, added: "It would have been good if Disney had released dual versions of the film. Then younger audiences would be able to catch the film in the cinemas."

Correction note: This story has been edited to accurately reflect Ms Cheryl Ng’s designation.

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