If you were clamoring to see Vladimir Putin on screen the next time you go to the movies, you're out of luck. According to The Hollywood Reporter, two upcoming films from separate studios have decided not to include Putin as a character due to fears of Russian retaliation.
Fox’s Red Sparrow, which is based on a book of the same name, stars Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy turned double agent for the CIA. Putin played a key role in the book, but he's been removed from the film. But that's not the only precaution the studio has taken: Encrypted scripts will reportedly be used throughout production.
EuropaCorp’s Kursk, which is about a Russian submarine that sank in the Barents Sea in 2000, also won't feature Putin despite his appearance in the book it's based on.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that removing Putin from both films was a “creative choice” that's also meant to deter Russian protesters from hacking the studios. This concern is warranted, because the U.S. government believed North Korea was behind the 2014 Sony hack due to the studio's portrayal of Kim Jong-Un in The Interview.
“For a studio to release a movie about Putin that makes him look like a fool would be suicide,” a studio security firm said. “That’s a certain way to be targeted [for retaliation].”
Although we won't be seeing Putin on the big screen anytime soon, we can rest assured that he'll likely make daily appearances on the news for the foreseeable future.