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No, Disney+ didn’t drop ‘Anastasia’ because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

“Anastasia,” the 1997 animated film, was removed from Disney+ in the U.S. due to pre-existing licensing deals. On March 18, it will be available to stream on Starz.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is spurring a global corporate boycott of the country. Some of the world’s most well-known brands, including Apple, BP and Mercedes, have pulled out of business and investment deals with Russia in order to maintain their reputations and live up to corporate responsibility standards.

On March 1, the classic animated movie “Anastasia,” which is based on the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, was removed from Disney+ in the U.S. Some people on social media claim the movie was banned from the streaming service because of its storyline about Russian history given the current war in Ukraine. But is this true? 

THE QUESTION

Did Disney+ drop the movie “Anastasia” because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine? 

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, Disney+ did not drop the movie “Anastasia” because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

WHAT WE FOUND

The 1997 animated film “Anastasia” was originally produced and distributed by 21st Century Fox, according to online film and TV database IMDB. Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in March 2019, along with many of its TV and movie assets, including “Anastasia.” 

But that changed in early March, around the same time the claims about the movie circulated on social media. A Disney Streaming spokesperson told VERIFY in a statement that “Anastasia” is no longer available on the streaming service as of March 1 in the U.S. “due to a pre-existing rights deal.” The spokesperson said the movie is still available to stream on Disney+ in other countries and will be available to stream in the U.S. on March 18 on Starz. 

On March 1, Starz shared a video on its Twitter account and Facebook page that shows “Anastasia” will be available on its streaming service on March 18. 

It’s common for movies and TV shows to change hands between networks and streaming services depending on licensing agreements. Over a year before Disney+ launched on Nov. 12, 2019, former Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors that many of the company’s properties “are encumbered by licensing arrangements that we have with a number of different entities, notably Netflix and Starz.”

While Disney+ did not remove “Anastasia” from its streaming platform because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Walt Disney Company released a statement on Feb. 28 saying it is pausing the release of its films in Russia for the time being. 

“Given the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the tragic humanitarian crisis, we are pausing the release of theatrical films in Russia, including the upcoming ‘Turning Red’ from Pixar. We will make future business decisions based on the evolving situation. In the meantime, given the scale of the emerging refugee crisis, we are working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees,” the statement reads. 

More from VERIFY: No, a TIME magazine cover with Vladimir Putin’s face superimposed on Adolf Hitler is not real

   

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