Ukrainian group demands Oscars to review ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ nominations over Russian influence concerns
Ahead of the Oscars this Sunday, an international Ukrainian advocacy group is calling on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to review the nominations for Top Gun: Maverick, over allegations that the blockbuster film was funded by a Russian billionaire oligarch.
Any funding from Dmitry Rybolovlev "was not publicly disclosed and there is good reason to believe that his involvement may have led to censorship on behalf of the Kremlin," Paul Grod, the president of the Ukrainian World Congress, wrote in a letter to the Academy's president Tuesday.
The Los Angeles Times reported in January on a breach-of-contract lawsuit that alleged that Rybolovlev helped fund the Top Gun sequel, as well as other films like the Mission: Impossible movies, through his role as a "silent partner" in New Republic Pictures, a production company.
Rybolovlev, also the president of the soccer team AS Monaco, was sanctioned by Ukraine last year.
He hasn't been sanctioned by the U.S., but he was included on the U.S. Treasury department's 2018 "Putin List" of Russian oligarchs who became prominent figures under Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Ukrainian World Congress, which represents groups that are part of the Ukrainian diaspora, called on the Oscars to "explicitly reject films with any direct or indirect investments by Russian oligarchs or other enablers of Russia’s genocidal war on Ukraine," and review Top Gun: Maverick's eligibility this year.
The film received six nominations, including Best Picture.
"Contrary to the original film, Top Gun: Maverick makes no direct or indirect reference to Russia. This is hardly a coincidence," Grod wrote.
The Academy did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.
- This isn't the first international funding row Top Gun: Maverick has faced. The Chinese tech giant Tencent was initially set to co-finance the film, but it pulled out over concerns that Chinese Community Party officials would be angry about the movie's celebration of the American military, The Wall Street Journal reported last May.