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‘Gangster Squad’ Director Ruben Fleischer Says Cutting Shooting Sequence Was The "Appropriate And Responsible Thing To Do"

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by Edward Davis
December 18, 2012 12:52 PM
13 Comments
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Shooting tragedies in this country are becoming a chillingly common occurrence of late. Responses are tricky: how to balance the desire to be respectful, with not going overboard and becoming overprotective? The question of censorship hit in July, after the shooting tragedy at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The 1940s period picture “Gangster Squad” starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling landed at the center of the fallout for a sequence in the film's trailers that showed Mickey Cohen (Penn) and his men in the middle of a firefight in a movie theater. The connotations of purposely gunning down moviegoers, like the disturbed real-life shooter, no doubt left many feeling that "Gangster Squad" was suddenly in poor taste. Warner Bros. rightly decided to begin pulling the trailer from theaters, and then considered what their next move should be.

Meanwhile, over at Deadline, Nikki Finke used the shooting to continue to screech about Warner Bros. efforts even though they had already made decisions internally about how they would handle the incident, with sensitivy to the victims and national mood. The studio decided to not only pull the trailer theatrically, but online as well, and announced they were cutting the aforementoined sequence from the film, would film a new scene, and were moving the release date of the film from a planned September 2012 bow to January 2013 instead. Cries of kowtowing to media censorship were heard from many corners of the film blogosphere, but one person you won’t hear crying foul is director Ruben Fleischer. Though he remained largely silent during this period, during the recent “Gangster Squad” press day in L.A. the filmmaker revealed he was all for the cuts.

“The Aurora shooting was an unspeakable tragedy, and out of respect for the families of the victims, we felt it necessary to reshoot that sequence, and I'm proud of the fact that we did,” he said, “I think that we didn't compromise the film or our intent, and I think the [newly shot] Chinatown sequence is really well done, and that we should all respect the tragedy and not draw associations to our film.”

Fair enough. And Fleischer was so adamant that he said if it shows up on DVD later, don’t look at him. "You don't want it out there if it is going to be hurtful to people," the director added.

Josh Brolin, also present at the press conference jumped in. "I truly believe this, as opposed to bullshitting you that I have to say this, I think it's a better sequence than what was there in the beginning,” the actor said. “Out of respect for the families, I understand why Warner Bros. made the decision. The fact that that happened and that exists in the movie, it's just too similar. So I agreed with the choice. Not everybody agreed, but I totally agreed with the choice.”

Thoughts? Let us know your feelings below, particularly as the events in Newtown, Conneticut bring up this conversation again. “Gangster Squad” opens January 11, 2013. - Reporting by Charlie Schmidlin

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13 Comments

  • Zane gray | December 29, 2012 9:12 PMReply

    Honestly this was a pretty stupid but good thing to do. I'm very mad that they had to cut that scene out of the movie. I can say that Warner bros kinda freaked out about this they should have just left the movie alone.

  • Concerned | December 19, 2012 11:23 PMReply

    Fucking idiots, The movie had nothing to do with the actual shooting, While we all feel for the families we still want to see a good movie. Personally I won't watch this *cut* garbage, quit censoring us you fucking pussies.

  • Sherry | December 19, 2012 2:00 AMReply

    Part of me sees why WB did what they did but another part of me thinks they didn't need to re-shoot it. Based on what I've read it seems this movie was already made and showing the previews when the incident happened in Aurora so why was it in bad taste? Certainly I can understand why friends and family members of the victims wouldn't want to see it but on the other hand I think they have other priorities than to worry about a film anyways. It's not like they shot the film with that ending AFTER the fact - that would have been in bad taste for certain but if it was already on it's way to release I think any reasonable person would agree that it wasn't WB's intention to be insensitive to the victims. Then again it seems a lot of people in the media industry seem to have an issue with providing objective reporting so I wouldn't expect them to be reasonable. I can see why WB could see that spinning out of control regardless of the fact that they weren't copying anything. So like I said, I can see both sides of that coin.

  • Billy | December 18, 2012 9:01 PMReply

    Let's hope there isn't an incident in Chinatown or we will never see this movie.

  • David Lopan | December 18, 2012 6:54 PMReply

    If I must endure the re-shot ending, even though the scene had no correlation to the incident, and everyone is a giant sissy....I guess it'll have to do. Can we at least get the REAL ending on Blu ray? I'd like to see what the original film intended to be.

  • Alan | December 18, 2012 6:06 PMReply

    Such pussies. STOP catering to everyone's feelings america. Grow a pair and stop giving in to sensitivity!

  • Alan | December 19, 2012 2:20 AM

    This Alan is not the same as me (I'm the one that whined about Katie Walsh's TDKR) and it depresses me that this guy thinks like this.

  • LARRY COHEN | December 18, 2012 1:42 PMReply

    Micky Cohen was my great uncle.I only wish that I could have been a consultant on the research in making this film.Although I have only seen the trailer,and I am a true Shawn Penn
    admirer,this film lacks many true aspects of Mr.Cohen.I know film makers have to take fantisy
    in consideration to get movie seekers attention,once again my uncle has been poorly portrayed.

  • Alan | December 19, 2012 2:26 AM

    Nothing anyone said or did could have changed Penn's approach to the character (which is the same as his approach to most of his roles): stupid vocal choices, faux-tough guy attitude, dumb middle distance stares, histrionic shouting, clichéd mannerisms etc. I don't believe that you are related to Mickey Cohen because you would be pissed off that the cartoonish Penn was picked, at all.

  • John Constantine | December 18, 2012 3:02 PM

    it's Sean Penn you Shawn Penn admirer

  • Franquelis | December 18, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    I agree with Fleischer and Brolin. It's a very difficult thing to show a scene that closely resembles what happened in Aurora. I'm glad to see some empathy towards families that lost loved ones coming from a big studio like Warner Bros. God bless.

  • Rick | December 19, 2012 8:55 AM

    @Julian, it isn't as if they got rid of the violence, they just changed the setting. I really don't see the big deal.

  • Julian | December 18, 2012 8:41 PM

    But everyone suffers for what one wack job did. My sympathies go to the families of the victims. But cutting the scene in a movie does not help them. By changing the movie altogether, they basically wound up babying the movie goers. Let the movie goers decide what they can and can't handle. If people don't want to see it, then don't see it. But don't punish the people who can handle watching it. I know I could handle watching the film. That doesn't make me a terrible person. It makes me a strong person, and shows that I'm not going to let what one wack job did affect me. And a majority of movie goers in this country feel the same way.

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