Josh Gad and Luke Evans in 'Beauty and the Beast' (Photo: Laurie Sparham/Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)
Not everyone is excited about LeFou's "exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
The schedule change occurred after director Bill Condon revealed that Josh Gad's character LeFou, the comical sidekick to antagonist Gaston (Luke Evans), will be Disney's first-ever LGBTQ character, in dedication to the original film's late lyricist Howard Ashman. The Hollywood Reporter's review of the film warned, "Rabid red-state homophobes may be incandescent with fury to see how things end up for him in the finale."
Opened in 1999, the Henagar Drive-In screens family-friendly double features (this week's listing includes The Eagle Huntress and A Dog's Purpose). The theater's shift away from Beauty and the Beast was decided by the business' new owners who took over in December.
"When companies continually force their views on us we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine," the business said in a statement on Facebook. "If we can not take our 11 year old grand daughter and 8 year old grandson to see a movie we have no business watching it. If I can't sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me then we have no business showing it.
"I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That's fine," reads the statement. "We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches. We will continue to show family oriented films so you can feel free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality, and foul language."
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Disney for comment.
Condon explained LeFou's subplot alteration to Attitude: "LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston.... He's confused about what he wants. It's somebody who's just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that's what has its payoff at the end, which I don't want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie."
Gad added at the Los Angeles premiere that "it's a beautiful, subtle moment that does its job and is left alone," and that LeFou's sexuality has been a topic of discussion since the original film debuted. "For 25 years, people have been asking this question about this character," he said. "What I would love to see is a moment when we no longer have to ask this question. I would love it if it weren't such a story."
Related: 'Beauty and the Beast': Film Review
Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, and Stanley Tucci are also featured in Beauty and the Beast, which hits theaters March 17.
'Beauty and the Beast' featurette: 'Empowering Belle':