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Warner Bros. Pushes 'Gangster Squad' Release from September to January in Wake of Aurora Shootings

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood July 27, 2012 at 1:43PM

As expected, in the wake of the "Dark Knight Rises" Aurora shootings on July 19, Warner Bros. has opted to push back the release from September to January of Ruben Fleischer's "Gangster Squad." The film features a climactic sequence in which machine-gun-wielding gangsters surprise an audience from behind a movie screen and shoot into the theater.
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Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in "Gangster Squad"
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in "Gangster Squad"

As debates about guns and movie violence rage on, as expected, in the wake of the "Dark Knight Rises" Aurora shootings on July 19, Warner Bros. has quietly pushed back the release from September to January of Ruben Fleischer's "Gangster Squad."  Set in the 40s, the film starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone features a key climactic sequence in which machine-gun-wielding gangsters surprise an audience from behind a movie screen, shooting into the theater.

Reportedly, the violent scene, filmed in Hollywood's famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre, was integral to the "Gangster Squad" plot as originally written. Thus the studio is buying more time to figure out how to proceed with possible reworkings of not just the shoot-out sequence but also the structure of the film. The trailer also had to be quickly re-edited for the July 20 weekend, to exclude shots from the movie-theater massacre. As it happens, Century 16 did not pair the Warners trailer with the opening night screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" when James Holmes opened fire on unsuspecting Aurora moviegoers.

The New York Times digs into the history of violent films at the Warners studio, from "Public Enemy" and "Dirty Harry" to Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange," which Kubrick had pulled from theaters in Britain following copycat violence. And to his credit, activist Democrat Harvey Weinstein, whose stock in trade is indie fare--including such hard-R shockers as "Pulp Fiction" and "Grindhouse"-- is exhorting fellow industry players to meet at a summit to discuss the impact of movie violence in the real world.

This article is related to: Gangster Squad, Warner Bros. , Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, The Dark Knight Rises, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Harvey Weinstein


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.