When tragedies like the massacre in Aurora, Colorado happen, a quiet side effect is that movies and TV shows sometimes have to scramble to adjust or edit scenes that contain elements reminiscent of said tragedies. After 9/11, for example, a number of movies had to decide whether or not to leave the World Trade Center towers in. Men in Black II had a climactic scene that took place at the WTC but it was digitally changed to the Statue of Liberty. The Bourne Identity had to be changed quite a bit due its terrorism plot and Collateral Damage‘s release was delayed four months because of a scene in which a terrorist bombs a building in Los Angeles. Even kids’ movies were affected. In The Incredibles, there was initially a scene in which a frustrated Mr. Incredible takes his anger out on a building and accidentally damages a neighboring building. This had to be changed as the scene was deemed to be too reminiscent of the WTC collapse.
So far, two upcoming movies are making adjustments so as not to upset audience members. Step Up 4, which comes out this Friday, contains a scene in which a group of dancers infiltrate a corporate party carrying smoke canisters and wearing gas masks similar to those of Aurora shooting suspect James Holmes. The scene is going to remain in the movie, but the studio, Summit Entertainment, has pulled advertising that contained clips of that scene. Summit released a statement about their decision, and made a point of describing the movie as an “inspirational, nonviolent film.”
(Though, honestly, was anyone in danger of going to see that movie? Don’t get me wrong, I have seen all of the films in the Step Up oeuvre, but they’re pretty terrible. At least, the parts where they’re trying to have a plot and won’t just shut up and dance are extremely shitty. Step Up 3 was almost unwatchable with the amount of “acting” they kept insisting on doing. Step Up 4 centers around a troupe of dancers whose preferred mode of discourse is flash mobs, which irritate me enough as it is.)
The other movie that has to make some quick changes is Gangster Squad, which is about a special police crew that sets out to destroy the mob in 1940s Los Angeles.
The Ryan Gosling flick was supposed to come out September 7th, but its release has been pushed back to January 11th. The only other movie scheduled for release that day is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which…yeah, I don’t think Gangster Squad has much to worry about, competition-wise. The reason for the delay? Well, there’s a scene in which a shoot-out takes place inside a movie theater. Ugh, uncomfortable squirming, amirite? The delayed release will give Warner Brothers time to re-shoot the scene. You can still glimpse the scene in the trailer below (though this might get pulled from YouTube soon).
Since Warner Brothers is the studio that released The Dark Knight Rises, the film that was showing when the Aurora massacre took place, it seems like the right move. Especially since The New York Times ran an article yesterday examining Warner Brothers’ central position in the debate over violence depicted in media, as many of their films are violent.
Warner Brothers’ decision to edit the movie isn’t universally supported, however. Detractors over at the Indiewire blog think that the change means letting the Aurora shooter have more influence than he deserves. How do you feel about it? Should Warner Brothers and Gangster Squad have owned the movie’s particular depiction of violence? Would delaying the release have been enough?