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Warner Bros. Considers Recutting Or Delaying Release Of 'Gangster Squad' In Wake Of Colorado Shooting

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by Kevin Jagernauth
July 21, 2012 11:19 AM
55 Comments
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With the country still reeling from the shocking and awful shooting in Colorado during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," an incident that has left twelve dead and more than fifty injured, the industry itself is figuring out how best to respond. Warner Bros. has been left in an unfortunate position, with the opening of their biggest film of the year marred. Thus far, the studio has pulled TV spots for the film and has decided not to report the box office figures this weekend out of respect for the victims. But another upcoming film on the WB slate may also be affected by the events of the past couple days.

If you caught the deplorable, self-centered squaking by Nikke Finke yesterday, who managed to turn a national tragedy into being all about her, and then you might have learned that "Gangster Squad" trailer was attached to about 30% of the prints of 'Rises.' Finke initially crowed that it was only due to her badgering that the studio decided to yank the trailer -- which features a scene of gangsters shooting through a movie screen at the audience -- from the film, before later backpedaling and "graciously" giving the studio credit for making that call themselves, explaining that she wasn't given the full story because it was an outside rep that was handling their PR yesterday. Regardless, it was utterly shameless display, with Warner Bros. obviously dealing with the kind of event no one can prepare for; Nikki should realize that returning her calls probably wasn't high on their to do list. 

Anyway, the LA Times reports Warner Bros. are still assessing what to do with Ruben Fleischer's film as the nation comes to grips with the events in Colorado. Among the options on the table are delaying the release of the film, or editing or removing the movie theater sequence entirely. The only issue with that choice is that the scene is apparently a "climatic moment," and changing it would potentially hurt the narrative throughline, and/or require new scenes to be shot. There was a test screening planned for later this month as well, but that too may be canceled.

Given we're still barely over 24 hours since this all happened, everything about the shooting is still very raw nerved and emotional. While sensitivity towards an audience is appreciated, we'd hate to see Flesicher's film compromised or changed from its original vision, and we hope that the filmmakers and the studio step back, and take their time in making a call on this. A delay seems like the smartest play at this point, allowing everything in the wake of Colorado to unfold as it should, while also giving "Gangster Squad" a chance to re-gear its marketing campaign down the line; editing/cutting seems like a hasty, short term solution . We understand WB wants to do right by victims still reeling from all of this, but what do you think? Should "Gangster Squad" be pushed back? Should that sequence be edited -- whether its released now or later on? Weigh in below. 

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55 Comments

  • Daniel Morrison | July 25, 2012 11:41 PMReply

    How about WB get used to making films that don't represent the lowest common denominator in society. You'd think know one had ever heard of bad art. "A pine forest is just a real as a pigsty, but a pine forest is a whole lot nicer to look at." - L.M. Montgomery

  • Christina Smythe | July 24, 2012 3:24 PMReply

    I am very sorry to hear about the loss of so many innocent lives in this senseless act. My deepest sympathy goes out to the family of the victims. Someone created a memorial page for these victims on Evertalk within Facebook. There is a memorial fund on this page and people can donate to help the families of the victims of this terrible tragedy. Here's the page.
    https://apps.facebook.com/evertalk/index/memorial/victimscolorado2137

  • Jacklyn Johnson | July 24, 2012 3:29 PM

    My prayers for comfort for the family and friends of the victims. Thanks for the heads up on the Evertalk memorial page Christina. I will make sure to visit it.

  • John Brune | July 23, 2012 5:39 PMReply

    Yes it should be delayed. No it should not be edited. This gunman in Colorado shouldn't be a catalyst to change our art or how we enjoy it. Maintain the vision of the filmmakers and delay the release until Christmas or Thanksgiving--or even Halloween. Let this blow over before modifying the work of a lot of talented people.

  • Gjb | July 23, 2012 10:31 AMReply

    I really don't think it should be edited, as there are many films out there that can and have been related to major tragedies in the past. And everbody at some point in their life have watched a film that has a scene in it that is really personal to them with something that has happened to them, therefore it would not make a difference if one film edited a scene due to what happened in Colorado, I mean this to cause no offence to the families of the shooting

  • drew | July 23, 2012 10:29 AMReply

    After reading some comments, I see empathy and common sense run low on here.
    Obviously Gangster Squad is not related to the shootings, but to release a film that has a very similar scene as the horrific one that played out this weekend would be extremely insensitive towards the people and families that have suffered through this tragedy. The film should be delayed but not changed IMO. Let the people who are suffering be given time the heal and not have to be reminded through film of this incident.
    Of course most ppl won't go see this movie because of the scene, but guess what... they're going to be asked about it by others for sure.

  • Rob SFC | July 23, 2012 10:27 AMReply

    NO! Movies don't kill people, people kill people. This is so ridiculous.

  • Ty | July 22, 2012 10:28 PMReply

    Editing or delaying the movie would be retarded. Yes, the event is a tragedy, but it shouldn't effect film making at all.

  • Rob SFC | July 23, 2012 10:28 AM

    You are so right! Thanks!

  • Me | July 22, 2012 12:43 PMReply

    The trailer/ads are the only part that needs edited. I doubt any of the victims or there families are going to rush to see the movie 'Gangster Squad' but I am sure most of them have TVs and internet access where the ads show the violent sequence similar to their recent experiences. WB should recut the ad to remove this sequence and retract all current ads that include it.

  • Wrath of Colin | July 22, 2012 10:40 AMReply

    Why was it a 'national' tragedy? It was certainly a tragedy, truly horrific, but why national? It only happened in one place. Sure, there may have been out-of-town visitors there but that would mean than any tragedy is a national tragedy. Or international, if they were foreign. Stop making it all about America and just respect those who lost their lives.

  • MJ | July 22, 2012 11:30 PM

    So September 11th had no effect on people in the MidWest and West Coast because it only happened on the East coast?

  • Little T | July 22, 2012 10:20 AMReply

    The shootings in Colorado, although tragic, has nothing to do with Gangster Squad. I vote for on time release of an unedited version.

  • Connor | July 22, 2012 3:50 AMReply

    There was no way WB could have known that this was going to happen. Gangster Squad should be delayed out of respect, but to cut out or edit the film's climax is far too risky for the film's financial success.

  • Roxie | July 22, 2012 2:50 AMReply

    I think delaying the release would be the best choice. WB has already begun to set themselves up for that possibility by making the choice to cancel events related to TDKR as well as pull advertising and not release their box office draw for this opening weekend.

  • paitl | July 22, 2012 2:12 AMReply

    It would be pretty dumb to delay or recut this movie. The shooting was tragic, but it has nothing to do with the release of Gangster Squad. Keep the release date and don't edit the movie. The people that want to see it will still go see it. If they were going to delay the release of anything it would have made more sense to pull TDKR from theaters and delay it but they didn't do that.

  • jm | July 22, 2012 1:50 AMReply

    Just push the release back. I totally understand the sensitivity on that subject, but the integrity of the film shouldn't be compromised. Where do we draw the line on what's a "sensitive" subject if they do that? People get stabbed...do we take out any stab scenes in movies to make sure we don't offend them? People die from drugs, do we take someone doing drugs in a movie? We'll get past the sadness and anxiety of this situation over time, but we shouldn't be censoring ourselves in the meantime.

  • Adam | July 22, 2012 1:02 AMReply

    The guy identified himself as the joker. He told police that he was the Joker. As far as The Gangster Squad they should not re-cut the film but leave it as is because the movie is based on true incidents and from my research reading the articles from the LA Times about the real gangster squad etc a mass shooting in a movie theater did take place. It was the times and that is what real Gangsters did. People need to relax and quit reacting with knee jerk reactions after every tragedy etc.

  • aman | July 22, 2012 1:01 AMReply

    this loser who killed all those innocent victims has also ruined one of the biggest weekends for films in history -- and now may be delaying one of my most anticipated movies. i hope he gets the death penalty....

  • deadman | July 22, 2012 12:28 AMReply

    Dark Knight Rises should be rated R for violence, now a days you can kill all the people you want just show no blood, Nolan must feel somewhat responsible, he should demand WB recut Dark Knight Rises by taking out the violence!!! Someone needs to save America!!!!

  • Will | July 22, 2012 3:25 AM

    What are you talking about? This is a horrible tragedy, none of us commenting will ever understand this or know what it feels like. We've probably all lost someone, but not like this, not like these people. They are experiencing a pain, no one else has felt, and no one else should say they've felt because this is different. But getting rid of violence in movies isn't going to save America. There is violence everywhere, and what this guy did was not because he played a violent video game, or got into Heath Ledger's Joker(R.I.P) too much. Someone that does something like this, has been insane their whole life. Besides is anybody gonna see an action less Dark Knight. No, because that's the way we are, at least I'm not going to see a Batman that sits around and confronts his enemies and shares tea and cookies with them and gets to know them. Batman is violent, and these stories are dark ones, but when you think about it aren't a lot of things. Cutting violence will not save anything, because violence will always be around, unfortunately.

  • a guy | July 21, 2012 10:36 PMReply

    it was a sad incident but you dont need to cut anything or delay that would be stupid.

  • cinematic_high | July 21, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    Don't delay it...keep the film as is....and Hollywood needs to grow a pair.

  • TIGERLILY | July 21, 2012 7:08 PMReply

    I think WB should shoot a new scene. At this point in the film, good guys and bad guys have a shoot out in a crowded movie theater. Innocent people are killed. They can film a shoot out in some other place where it's just those gangsters shooting each other. I think it's gratuitous to have a scene where civilians are shot point blank in the head. I'm sure the film maker's are trying to make a point about how terrible the "good guys" feel because they unknowingly caused this horrific event, but I'm not so sure we need to see it.

  • Brandon | July 22, 2012 5:06 AM

    The scene in question actually happened. I think a delay might be appropriate but not necessary. These suggestions are reactionary and will more than likely not be insisted upon after some time has gone by. Was this event tragic? Without a doubt. I would not be upset were the release moved back, but to re edit the movie, or water it down as tigerlily suggests would be a gross overreaction. Cinema did not do this. A sicko did. And as I stated previously the scene in question was written and filmed because it did actually happen that way.

  • Brett | July 21, 2012 6:27 PMReply

    This is a tough call. Delaying it will come at a price. I think more people will see it if released as is because of everyone talking about it now. As much as a tragedy as this is, this Is not the first time violence has hit theatres. From the warriors in the 70s, to new jack city, colors, and boyz n the hood, this has happend before, maybe not this graphic. Their is no easy answer, cuz you can't predict something like this happening. They need to think ahead to the next twilight movie. Maybe cancel midnight shows altogether. If studios werent so money hungry, they would.

  • Eric | July 22, 2012 1:33 AM

    Cause violence only happens at midnight???

  • lilhuxtable | July 21, 2012 5:56 PMReply

    Delay it please. DO NOT RESHOOT OR ALTER IT. It's completely understandable to show respect and not release it but there is definitely no need to change what exists.




    Remember United 93?

    They just had to wait a little bit of time before they can adapt an actual horrific event. Gangster squad is nothing close. Geez.

  • Mike | July 22, 2012 11:25 PM

    Are you taking this as an opportunity to bash United 93, one of the most remarkable films ever made and probably the most respectful treatment of a true event in regards to sticking to the facts and nots manipulating audiences.

  • Nate | July 21, 2012 5:45 PMReply

    You might want to check her website before bashing Deadline.com
    They did not pull the trailers in response to her, they were already in the works of trying to get it pulled from theaters. Not all versions of the gangster trailer were attached to Batman so it wasn't something done quickly (you can only get so many theaters notified at 5 am). By today they are all pulled and WB is already working on a new trailer that doesn't involve that scene.

  • EM | July 21, 2012 5:36 PMReply

    Delay it. That really seems like the best call. There is no need to cut/re-cut the already approved artistic vision. Delay it out of respect, and like you said let everything regarding the shootings unfold.

  • Mike | July 21, 2012 5:09 PMReply

    Delay it but leave it as is. That worked for Phone Booth after the Beltway sniper incidents, & the premiere of 24 was delayed following September 11th, though in that case they took a head on shot of a plane exploding & turned it into a cutaway, a minor change but an edit nonetheless.

  • Ryan | July 21, 2012 4:10 PMReply

    I say don't compromise the film. Should we no longer film any movie where people die? I mean, people die! Characters grieve the loss of a family member from anything to cancer or a shooting death. And somewhere in the TV or theater audience, somebody who has lost a dad to cancer or a brother to a shooting sees the exact same thing. I know, because I'm the latter, and my mother is the former. It's not easy, but you get past it. But Gangster Squad just had unfortunate timing. It wasn't made about this incident.

    I vote postpone the film just a little while. Then release it without being changed. It was meant to be a terrifying moment and it will be. Don't let the shooter win by compromising how we act. I still went to Batman, Gangster Squad should still be released, and I'll go see that too.

  • rroo | July 21, 2012 2:57 PMReply

    The scene in question made my stomach turn. I have NO ISSUE with violence in films, but that scene is an excessive, gluttonous exercise in the slaughter of innocent bystanders. Machismo hardon violence that's over the top and begging to be loved by the bros.

    "Dude, it was so badass when all those people got shot!"
    "Dude, I know, I fuckin' came when that happened it was so fuckin' awesome!"

    The movie seems like a cliche-fest and looks pretty dull. I say release it as is, let it bomb, and no one will remember it.

  • jon | July 21, 2012 2:23 PMReply

    They should wait and release it in March or April of next year.

  • HB | July 21, 2012 2:12 PMReply

    Sorry, I'm really not trying to be a jerk, but I don't think "the country is reeling" over what happened. And don't be fooled. If they delay anything it will be out of the fear of losing box office, not respect for anyone.

  • Talie | July 21, 2012 2:06 PMReply

    Delaying until next spring/summer might be a good idea. By all accounts, it's not an Oscar film, so a fall release isn't necessary.

  • Will | July 21, 2012 12:41 PMReply

    Dont change Ganster Squad, but I would probably push it off for a little bit, out of respect, but don't cut scene. Or if you do, include an uncut version of the film on the DVD release.

  • Brent | July 21, 2012 12:38 PMReply

    The scene in the trailer that they are debating about cutting is probably one of the greatest scenes in recent trailer history. They should not cut the scene. I could understand a delay but that one man has damaged so much already, don't let him destroy the art of storytelling.

  • cirkusfolk | July 21, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    If anything they should pull The Dark Knight Rises. The film is about a terrorist who is seen shotting many innocent people in crowds in the film. Just because it doesn't take place in a theater doesn't mean its poor taste too. I mean the shooter was dressed like The Joker, clearly he was influenced by the batman films, not Gangster Squad's trailer.

  • Glass | July 21, 2012 4:15 PM

    By the way, how was he dressed like the Joker because his hair was dyed red? The Joker's hair is green. VILLAINFAIL

  • Travis | July 21, 2012 2:17 PM

    He was not dressed like the Joker, and he originally wasn't going to attack The Dark Knight Rises. He was planning on attacking a mall, and realized at the last minute a movie theater seemed better. It could have been Madagascar 3 by luck, but as it happened he had more of a chance at TDKR. The Joker thing was an afterthought, by either him or the media (The Joker comment did not appear in any early reports)

  • Bill | July 21, 2012 12:56 PM

    I'm curious to see if this "I'm the Joker" statement from him actually means anything or is just James Holmes being the crazy SOB he is. He wasn't dressed like the Joker & his hair was dyed red as was his goatee, these are not images or aesthetic choices that exactly speak of the Joker. This kid clearly was smart, booksmart at least, & he might wants his 5 minutes of fame & connecting his actions to the film on screen - even though there was no Joker in the film - seems like a way of doing that.
    I'm not trying to defend TDKR. If having the film pulled from theaters would have prevented a single death than I'm all for it but this terrible human being wanted to hurt as many people as possible & a midnight showing of the most anticipated film of the year is sadly the venue he choose to use.

    Pulling 'Gangster Squad' is a reactive move that makes sense. Most likely I expect the film is going to enter a period of reshoots & find some way to work around the film's theater setpiece. The theater setpiece itself might end up like the WTC Spider-man trailer & be a "popular legend" online.

  • Zack | July 21, 2012 12:47 PM

    The shooter was not "dressed like the Joker". He was wearing a riot helmet and a bulletproof vest. Also, you are aware the Joker doesn't appear in "The Dark Knight Rises", yes? And that there have been mass murderers longer than there have been movies?

  • Tom | July 21, 2012 12:13 PMReply

    I say push back the release but don't cut the film.

  • Daniel | July 21, 2012 12:11 PMReply

    It's wrong to recut the film because one maniac somewhere committed a horrible crime -- just flat-out wrong. That's giving him, and people like him, more power. Unless there is a legitimate, demonstrable correlation between that scene being shown and this nut's rampage, all you're doing by cutting it is giving him a voice in the editing room; essentially rewarding his mass-murder spree with a bonus of ruining another film. Now, whether the studio wants to delay the film out of respect for how it's perceived is another issue. And if this all sparks a bit of soul-searching by the studios about the kind of content they want to make in the future, that's fine -- a little self-examination now and then isn't a bad thing, even if only to assure yourself that you're on the right track -- but once we start letting our choices and our art be dictated by the actions of people who are, by definition, insane, we acknowledge that we are living in fear. We're letting them make us afraid. That's wrong.

  • Matt | July 21, 2012 2:58 PM

    I agree. Changing our whole lives to accommodate a single madman legitimizes their sick behavior. Obviously this act was a desperate cry for attention and the best thing we can do is ignore him and move on. Every time we make a celebrity out of a psychopath we open ourselves up to more people like him wanting their 15 minutes of fame.

  • cirkusfolk | July 21, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    How bout we do away with all scenes from movies that involve guns period. And of course all war movies should be destroyed cause there is still a real war happening. This is so stupid.

  • lucy | July 21, 2012 7:46 PM

    Delay it if anything. This is a horrible senseless act, but responding to it by changing the way we live is stupid. Mob movies and gangster movies have been happening for decades, and thosr arr based on real people and actions sometimes. This scene happens to be a coincidence. Don't change the way we live because someone wants us to.

  • kitcon | July 21, 2012 11:52 AMReply

    If the scene is very similar to the reenactment of the Aurora shooting that's already being shown on TV they may consider delaying. By the time the film comes out, millions will have seen the artists' renderings of how the CO gunman stood in front of the audience and sprayed them w/ bullets. If Gangster's looks too much like that, with the Aurora scenes still very fresh in people's minds, they'll lose part of their audience.

  • AS | July 21, 2012 11:30 AMReply

    You have got to be kidding me! Now they're just ruining art for the sake of... what? The shooting had absolutely nothing to do with cinema, so why does the industry have to respond in any way? I don't think the shopping mall industry changed after all of the mall shootings! This has now reached a new level of absurdity.

  • Zack | July 21, 2012 1:30 PM

    "I'm pretty sure this shooting will be out of the news by then."
    On that, I'm pretty sure you're right, depressingly.

  • AS | July 21, 2012 1:09 PM

    @Lol, AS - Thank you for completely missing the point I was making. The content of The Dark Knight Rises had NOTHING to do with the shooting. But that is how the media is spinning it. So now guns have to be edited out of every trailer and tv spot for TDKR and an entire sequence might get completely cut from another movie, which, by the way, doesn't even open for another month and a half. I'm pretty sure this shooting will be out of the news by then.

  • lol, AS | July 21, 2012 11:54 AM

    Hey dude, did you hear? 71 people were shot in a movie theater the other night, and it might not be in good taste to release a movie, depicting a machine gun massacre in a movie theater, six weeks after it happened. Common sense/decency, these days. It's not like they're not allowed to release it as it is. More of a business decision. It looks like LA Noir-trash anyways. It's not Apocalypse Now.

  • Zack | July 21, 2012 11:47 AM

    I'm guessing the shooting DID have something to do with cinema, but only to the extent that the shooter probably chose that location because it was dark, enclosed and full of people.

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