The Russian release of Hollywood action film Hunter Killer, in which US soldiers save a Russian president during a coup, has been postponed.
The distributor, Megogo Distribution, asked cinemas not to show the film hours before the premiere, saying it had not received a screening licence.
Russia’s culture ministry, which issues licences, said the company had provided an incomplete package of documents.
Some reports suggested the release was delayed due to its content.
The thriller, starring Scottish actor Gerard Butler, tells the story of a team of US Navy Seals who rescue a Russian president taken hostage by his rogue defence ministry, thus averting a global war.
In a Facebook post, Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov wrote that Moscow was not keen on the plot’s hypothetical scenario suggesting that President Vladimir Putin – who has been in power for years – could be ousted.
Earlier this year, Russia banned British comedy The Death of Stalin, with officials complaining that the picture contained “ideological warfare” and “extremism”.
What did the distributor say?
In a letter, Megogo Distribution said that “at the moment we still do not have any response from the culture ministry” about the screening licence, Russia’s industry outlet Film Distributor Bulletin reported.
Megogo Distribution said this was despite the fact that all the materials and documents regarding Hunter Killer had been submitted well in advance, and the ministry previously had no objections to the film’s release.
A representative of Russia’s Luxor cinema chain told the BBC that the company had received the distributor’s letter about the delay.
The representative added that the screening licence could be issued on Friday.
What about the Culture Ministry’s position?
Representatives were quoted as saying that the distributor did not show confirmation that it had transferred a copy of the film “for permanent storage in the Russian state film fund [archive]”.
This is a key pre-requisite for obtaining a screening licence.
Hunter Killer was released in the US last month.