Amazon, WarnerMedia, And Discovery Have Joined The Russia Boycott

Following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Hollywood studios acted quickly to turn off any sort of financial pipeline they may have with Russia, pulling their product from the country and ceasing their streaming services there. Warner Bros. previously announced that their film "The Batman" will not be opening in Russia, and Universal pulled Michael Bay's upcoming action film "The Ambulance" from release there. Paramount announced that all future releases would also be banned, including "The Lost City" and "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." Disney pulled Russian access to their theatrical releases. Sony will not be releasing "Morbius" there. Netflix ceased its operations in Russia as well, as they refused a mandate by the Russian government to carry several channels devoted to pro-Putin propaganda. This is due to a law in Russia that any service with over 100,000 subscribers carry such channels. Netflix refused. 

The above boycotts all followed other media boycotts from The BBC, CNN, and German broadcasting giant Deutsche Welle. 

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter just this morning, Discovery, Amazon, the whole of WarnerMedia will also ban Russia from consuming their channels. 

Discovery operates The Discovery Channel, The Food Network, HGTV, TLC, Animal Planet, Motor Trend, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and several other channels. WarnerMedia, in addition to Warner Bros. Pictures and all its subsidiaries (New Line Cinema, Castle Rock Entertainment, etc.), also controls The CW, Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes, Turner Entertainment, and the streaming service Vudu. Amazon, in addition to being a worldwide shopping superpower, is one of the largest streaming channels available. 

The statements

These media boycotts are inspired by both the unlawful invasion of Ukraine, but also a new censorship law passed by Putin on March 4 that would imprison any journalist who refers to the war in Ukraine as a "war." This has been merely the latest step in Putin's war on information. 

The statement from WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, says WarnerMedia "is pausing all new business in Russia." They will be "ceasing broadcast of our channels, halting all new content licensing with Russian entities, and pausing our planned theatrical and games releases." Kilar wants to keep the door open for business in future, however. Kilar continues in his memo that "we are following this situation closely and future business decisions will be made with that context in mind." 

Amazon's statement curtly says that, in addition to banning all Amazon web services, "We are also suspending access to Prime Video for customers based in Russia, and we will no longer be taking orders for 'New World,' which is the only video game we sell directly in Russia."

Other companies to have severed ties with Russia are McDonalds, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks. This, along with government bans on the import of Russian energy and oil purchases. 

The boycotts are supported by Ukraine, as Illia Svidler, the CEO of Kinolife explained to NPR. "When all the big Hollywood movies are not released, people feel it." The lack of major Hollywood products in the Russian marketplace does an immense amount of damage to the entire Russian entertainment industry, which relies on American blockbusters for a good deal of their profits. Svidler estimates that about 70% of the Russian film industry is imported from other countries, and the Hollywood boycotts will hobble the bulk of the country's profits.

So while it may seem churlish that, in the midst of a war, Russian audiences will not be able to see Hollywood fluff like "Morbius" or "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," the boycotts are profoundly strangling the Russian film industry. 

Ukrainian movie theaters, meanwhile, are currently being used as shelters from the Russian attack.