A Russian media company involved in the distribution of the new Elton John biopic has reportedly cut several minutes of content featuring the singer's homosexual relationships to avoid challenging the country's anti-gay propaganda laws.
The Guardian reported Friday that the film "Rocketman" was cut by about five minutes to remove scenes of romantic encounters between John and his partner as well as captions in the movie that detailed his personal life after the film takes place.
“Changes were made to the film in accordance with Russian law," Russian state media said, according to The Guardian.
One Russian journalist reportedly detailed the changes on Facebook, writing: “all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out … The nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale.”
John and the film's production company released a statement condemning the move on Friday, writing that they "reject in the strongest possible terms" any changes to the film's content.
"We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today," John and the production company wrote.
“That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people," they added.
"Rocketman," the story of John's rise to pop fame, hit theaters on Friday in the U.S. and had a 90 percent "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of press time.