Netflix Presses Pause On All Projects With Russia

Netflix is the latest studio to hit the brakes on their Russian releases in response to the country's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. According to a new report from Variety, the streamer is pausing production of any and all future projects and acquisitions from Russia.

This includes four original Russian-language Netflix originals in various stages of production, like a new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," which wrapped filming last year and was set to be the country's first Netflix series. There's also "ZATO," a crime thriller set in the 1990s from Darya Zhuk and Stanislav Libin that followed the fall of the Soviet Union and is currently in production, but has now been put on hold.

A wave of support for Ukraine

Earlier this week, Disney made the decision not to release any new films in Russia, including its upcoming "Turning Red." Shortly thereafter, Warner Bros. pulled the Russian release of "The Batman" from the calendar, followed by Sony and later Paramount Pictures pulling their upcoming releases as well. Because Russia is one of the largest box office markets in the world, this decision comes at a monetary cost to the studios.

When it comes to Netflix, it's a bit of a different story. Netflix only began offering Russian-localized content a year ago, and according to reports the streamer has fewer than 1 million subscribers in the country and lacks employees and even an office there. To stop the release of Russian-produced shows won't necessarily make a big impact to the worldwide or even the Russian Netflix audience, so it may be more of a symbolic gesture of goodwill than anything. A bigger gesture, however, was made by Netflix earlier this week when it refused to allow the broadcast of Russian government-controlled channels on the streaming service. This was in defiance of a law that required broadcasting companies with more than 100,000 subscribers to carry local stations with the ability to air state-run propaganda. 

As of now, only Disney has committed to doing more than stop releases in Russia, confirming the company is "working with our NGO partners to provide urgent aid and other humanitarian assistance to refugees." As the invasion continues, studios should do more to not only punish Russia, but also aid those who are impacted by the invasion.